“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’” Acts 1:9-11
“Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” Mark 16:15-16
This Word of God, which was spoken by angels to the disciples who had just witnessed Jesus’ ascension into heaven, teaches us that Jesus Christ will return visibly in the clouds of glory on the Last Day.
The Bible says: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen” (Rev. 1:7).
As Jesus ascended into heaven, so He shall also return on the Last Day, the Day of Judgment. He will come again in clouds of glory. Every eye will see Him! His return will be no secret rapture — both the believer and the unbeliever will see Him coming in glory! Cf. 2 Thess. 1:7-10; Matt. 24:29-31.
And now, at the right hand of God the Father, Jesus is establishing and building His Church by sending men to preach the Gospel to all people. Jesus commanded His apostles (Mark 16:15-16): “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” And He still sends out His ministers today, as the Bible teaches in Ephesians 4:11: “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers….” He commands that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).
He gives us His Holy Spirit that we might believe the Gospel and be assured of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life through faith in Jesus’ name.
In Ephesians 1:13-14, we read: “In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” And in 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14: “But we are bound to give thanks to God always for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth, to which He called you by our gospel, for the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jesus is our Advocate with the Father and He intercedes on our behalf with His holy and precious blood, shed for us upon the cross. We read in 1 John 2:1-2: “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” Cf. Romans 8:34.
He prepares a place for us that He might come again and take us to be with Him where He is. Jesus said in John 14:1-3: “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.”
But, are you ready for His return and judgment? Are you prepared to meet Him?
Those who do not trust in Him for salvation will wail in sorrow at His return because they stand condemned for not trusting in the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18). But those who do trust in Him as their Savior — believing that they have pardon for their sins and peace with God for the sake of Christ’s innocent sufferings and death in their stead — will rejoice at His return because He comes to take them to be with Him forever in the mansions of heaven (cf. Luke 21:27-28; Heb. 9:27-28; John 14:1-3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18).
Do you acknowledge your sins and look to Christ and His cross for mercy and forgiveness? If not, the day of His return will be a day of sorrow and mourning as you face His eternal judgment and condemnation!
If you agree with God about your sins and trust in Christ and the atonement He made for the sins of the world when He died on the cross, that day will be a day of joy and gladness as you receive His mercy, pardon and life eternal in His glorious kingdom! Cf. 1 John 1:7—2:2.
It is as the Bible teaches in Mark 16:16, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, as You have ascended up into heaven to the right hand of God the Father, so come again and take us to be with You forever. By the Holy Spirit’s working through Your Word and Sacraments, graciously keep us in the true faith so that, on that day, we may greet You with joy and not with sorrow. Grant this unto us for the sake of Your holy life and bitter sufferings and death upon the cross in our stead. Amen.
“Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10b
In heaven, all live in accord with God’s perfect and holy will. The psalmist writes: “Bless the LORD, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word. Bless the LORD, all you His hosts, you ministers of His, who do His pleasure” (Psalm 103:20-21).
On earth, since the fall of mankind into sin which is recorded in Genesis 3, it is not so; but man, as he is by nature, rebels against God’s perfect will and seeks to go his own way. Again, the Bible tells us: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way” (Isa. 53:6).
Jesus, in the prayer which He has taught us to pray, directs us to pray that God’s will be done on earth — in our own lives — as it is in heaven! And what is God’s will? We find His perfect will recorded for us in the Holy Scriptures; God would have us faithfully believe and teach God’s Word and live according to it, submitting our will to His perfect will for us.
Jesus, God’s Son, faithfully carried out the will of His Father in heaven, even praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42), and being “obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Phil. 2:8). We, on the other hand, so often say with our words and actions, “Not Your will, but mine be done!”
But God the Father laid all our sin and guilt upon His Son, Christ Jesus; and Jesus paid the just penalty for our sins (Isa. 53:6). Jesus died on the cross, making full atonement for our sins and the sins of all, and rose again on the third day (1 Cor. 15:3-4).
God’s will for us is that we repent of our rebellion and sin against Him and trust in Christ’s shed blood for forgiveness and life. And, as a fruit of our faith in Christ, God desires that we conform our lives to that of His Son.
This is His will for all mankind (cf. 1 Tim. 2:3-6). And thus we pray: “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
Dear Father in heaven, I am by nature sinful and rebellious. I have not lived in accord with Your holy and perfect will. Forgive my sins for Jesus’ sake. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit and grant me both the desire and the strength to live in accord with Your perfect will. “Not my will, but Yours, be done”! “Your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Amen.
Even though God is patient and long-suffering with the people of this world, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3:9), He already rules over all things and the day is coming when every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Eph. 1:19-23; Phil. 2:10-11).
And so, we might wonder, why does Jesus direct us to pray to the Father: “Your kingdom come”?
Jesus here directs us to pray that His kingdom of mercy and grace would come to each of us and to people all over the world. Messiah Jesus was lifted up on the cross and crucified to pay the full penalty for our sins against God the Father — He died for the sins of the whole world and rose again from the dead on the third day. But, in spite of that fact, we would go on our merry way in ignorance of the import and meaning of what took place on that Roman cross outside of Jerusalem.
Of ourselves, we cannot enter God’s kingdom or be a part of it. As Jesus says, we must be born again of water and the Spirit (John 3:3ff.). And so Jesus directs His followers to pray for God’s kingdom to come — for God the Holy Spirit to graciously regenerate us through water and the Word and keep us trusting in Jesus and His shed blood for forgiveness and life everlasting. In this way, with childlike faith in Jesus and His atoning sacrifice, we are God’s children and a part of His eternal kingdom. The Bible tells us: “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:26,27).
Not only do we pray that God’s gracious kingdom would come to us, but that it would come to others also. We pray that people, both near and far, would hear the good news of salvation through faith in God’s Son and that they would turn from their sinful and rebellious ways and trust in Jesus and His shed blood for forgiveness and life.
Jesus Himself was moved with compassion on the multitudes of people around Him because they were weary and scattered abroad as sheep without a shepherd. He tells us: “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matt. 9:37-38).
Finally, we are directed to pray for Jesus’ coming and the establishment of God’s everlasting kingdom.
As the Scriptures teach us, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20-21).
We look forward to the day of Jesus’ return in hope and longing for the blessings of His eternal kingdom (cf. Rom. 8:22-23), and so we pray: “Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22:20).
Dear Father in heaven, graciously grant that Your kingdom would come to us — that we might have a place in Your kingdom through faith in the Son, Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice upon the cross for our sins. Grant that others too, both near and far, may learn of Your mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus and trust in Him. And, dear Father, as You have promised, come and reign over us forever through Your only-begotten Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. In His name, we pray. Amen.
What did Jesus’ disciples do after Jesus’ ascension?
What benefits do we as believers derive through Jesus’ ascension?
Read John 16:7-16; cf. John 14:15-18, 23-26. Why does Jesus say it is to our advantage that He ascends to the Father? How important is this?
Read Ephesians 1:15-23; Cf. Matthew 28:18-20; Philippians 2:5-11. What does it mean when we say Jesus ascended to the right hand of God the Father in heaven? Over what does He rule? Where is He present? Why is that important to us? How is Jesus’ ascension connected to our fulfillment of His great commission?
Read Hebrews 9:24-28; cf. 9:11ff.; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2. What is Jesus doing for us now before God the Father? How long will He continue to do this for us who look to Him and His cross for pardon and life eternal?
Read Hebrews 10:19-25; cf. 1 John 5:14-15. What privilege do we have because Christ died for our sins, rose again and ascended to the right hand of God the Father?
Read Acts 1:11; cf. Rev. 1:7; Matt. 24:29-31; 1 Cor. 15:20-24, 50-58; 1 Thess. 4:13-18. How will Jesus come back on the Last Day? Who will see Him on that Day? What will take place on that Day?
O crucified, risen and ascended Savior, we praise Your name for accomplishing our salvation through Your death, resurrection and glorious ascension. Graciously keep us in the true and saving faith until that day when You return, as your disciples saw You ascend, to take us to dwell with You forever. Amen.
The Hymn: “Oh, Sing with Exultation”
Author, Anders C. Arrebo; Tr., Carl Döving; Tune, Aus Meines Herzens Grunde
1 Oh, sing with exultation,
Sing to the Lord, rejoice,
And in His congregation
Shout with triumphant voice.
For, lo, at God’s right hand
Is Christ in glory seated;
With death and hell defeated,
As Victor He doth stand.
2 Since Christ, our Lord, is living,
We nevermore shall die;
To God the glory giving,
We rise to Him on high.
Tho’ chastened we may be,
And to our graves be taken,
We unto life shall waken
And live eternally.
3 Christ is the sure Foundation
The builders did reject,
But He for our salvation
Is precious and elect
And made the Cornerstone
On which the Church is founded;
This marvel now is sounded,
The work of God alone.
4 To Thee, O Christ, be glory,
Who camest in His name!
Thy people sing the story
Thy praises to proclaim.
We thank Thee and adore,
O Christ, our Lord and Savior;
Thy grace and boundless favor
Stand fast forevermore. Amen.
O Lord, open my lips, And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
Make haste, O God, to deliver me! Make haste to help me, O Lord!
The Psalm. Psalm 148
1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! 2 Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts! 3 Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all you stars of light! 4 Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! 5 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created. 6 He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away. 7 Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all the depths; 8 Fire and hail, snow and clouds; stormy wind, fulfilling His word; 9 Mountains and all hills; fruitful trees and all cedars; 10 Beasts and all cattle; creeping things and flying fowl; 11 Kings of the earth and all peoples; princes and all judges of the earth; 12 Both young men and maidens; old men and children. 13 Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven. 14 And He has exalted the horn of His people, the praise of all His saints — of the children of Israel, a people near to Him. Praise the Lord!
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.
The Lesson. John 14:1-6
1 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
5 Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
But You, O Lord, have mercy upon us. Thanks be to You, O Lord.
“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3
Jesus’ disciples were troubled over His words that He was about to go from them to a place where they could not yet come (cf. John 13:33, 36). Jesus spoke words of comfort to them, telling them of the many mansions (dwelling places) in the house of His Father in heaven. Jesus was going to prepare a place for them, and He would come again and take them to be with Him forever in heaven.
To prepare a place for His followers to be with Him in heaven, Jesus had to go to the cross, suffer and die for the sins of the world, and then rise again and ascend to the right hand of God the Father (cf. Luke 24:46-47). From there (this exalted position of power and authority), He rules and fills all things for the good of His church; He intercedes for believers; and, by His Holy Spirit’s working through Word and Sacraments, He creates and preserves faith in our hearts and leads and guides us to follow Him and walk in His ways (cf. Eph. 1:20-23; Rom. 8:34, 10:17; John 14:16-18,26; 1 John 2:1-2). Jesus continues to work for our eternal salvation; and He is preparing a place for us, that we might be with Him in the mansions of His Father’s house.
And, Jesus will come again and take us to be with Him where He is! When He comes to judge this evil world, He will gather up all who have trusted in His name and take them to be with Him forever in heaven!
The Scriptures say: “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thess. 4:16-18).
O dearest Jesus, cleanse away our sins with Your shed blood and prepare us to meet You on that glorious day when You come again to gather up Your elect and take them to be with You forever. Amen.
The Hymn: “Draw Us To Thee”
Zeuch uns nach dir; Tr., August Crull, d. 1923; Author, Friedrich Funcke (1686);
Tune, Ach Gott Und Herr; C. Peter, “Andachts-Zymbein,” Fryeberg, 1655
1 Draw us to Thee,
For then shall we
Walk in Thy steps forever
And hasten on
Where Thou art gone
To be with Thee, dear Savior.
2 Draw us to Thee,
Let us depart with gladness
That we may be
From sorrow, grief, and sadness.
3 Draw us to Thee;
O grant that we
May walk the road to heaven!
Direct our way
Lest we should stray
And from Thy paths be driven.
4 Draw us to Thee
That also we
Thy heavenly bliss inherit
And ever dwell
Where sin and hell
No more can vex our spirit.
5 Draw us to Thee
Into Thy kingdom take us;
Let us fore’er
Thy glory share,
Thy saints and joint heirs make us. Amen.
Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)
“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant; for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed. For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name. And His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with His arm; He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He has put down the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be: world without end. Amen.
O Lord, have mercy on us. O Christ, have mercy on us. O Lord, have mercy on us. O Christ, hear us. O God, the Father in heaven: Have mercy on us. O God the Son, Redeemer of the world: Have mercy on us. O God, the Holy Spirit: Have mercy on us. Be gracious to us. Spare us, good Lord. Be gracious to us. Help us, good Lord.
From all sin; from all error; from all evil: Good Lord, deliver us.
From the crafts and assaults of the devil; from sudden and evil death; from pestilence and famine; from war and bloodshed; from sedition and rebellion; from lightning and tempest; from all calamity by fire and water; and from everlasting death: Good Lord, deliver us.
By the mystery of your holy incarnation; by your holy nativity; by your baptism, fasting, and temptation; by your agony and bloody sweat; by your cross and passion; by your precious death and burial; by your glorious resurrection and ascension; and by the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter: Help us, good Lord.
In all time of our tribulation; in all time of our prosperity; in the hour of death; and in the day of judgment: Help us, good Lord.
We poor sinners pray; Hear us, O Lord God.
And to rule and govern your holy Christian Church; to preserve all pastors and ministers of your church in the true knowledge and understanding of your Word, and in holiness of life; to put an end to all schisms and causes of offence; to bring into the way of truth all who have gone astray and are deceived; to beat down Satan under our feet; to send faithful laborers into your harvest; to accompany your Word with your Spirit and grace; to raise up those who fall, and to strengthen those who stand; and to comfort and help the weak-hearted and the distressed; we pray: Hear us, good Lord.
To give to all nations peace and concord; to preserve our country from discord and contention; to give to our nation victory over all its enemies; to direct and defend our president, and all in authority; and to bless and keep our judges, leaders, and all our people: We pray, hear us, good Lord.
To see and help all who are in danger, necessity, and trouble; to protect all who travel by land, air or water; to preserve all women in the perils of childbirth; to strengthen and keep all sick persons and young children; to set free all who are innocently imprisoned; to defend and provide for all fatherless children and widows; and to have mercy on all people: We pray, hear us, good Lord.
To forgive our enemies, persecutors, and slanderers, and to turn their hearts; to give and preserve to our use the fruits of the earth; and graciously to hear our prayers: We pray, hear us, good Lord.
O Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God; We pray, hear us. O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world; Have mercy on us. O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world; Have mercy on us. O Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world; Grant us your peace.
O Christ, hear us. O Lord, have mercy on us. O Christ, have mercy on us. O Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.
Our Father, who art in heaven; Hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven; Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil; for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Collect for Peace.
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed; Give unto Thy servants that peace, which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be set to obey Thy commandments, and also that by Thee, we being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.
The Lord will give strength to His people. The Lord will bless His people with peace.
Bless we the Lord. Thanks be to God.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.