1 Dear friend who loves God:
In my first letter I told you about Jesus' life and teachings and how he returned to heaven after giving his chosen apostles further instructions from the Holy Spirit.
3 During the forty days after his crucifixion he appeared to the apostles from time to time, actually alive, and proved to them in many ways that it was really he himself they were seeing.
And on these occasions he talked to them about the Kingdom of God.
4 In one of these meetings he told them not to leave Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit came upon them in fulfillment of the Father's promise, a matter he had previously discussed with them.
5 "John baptized you with water," he reminded them, "but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit in just a few days."
6 And another time when he appeared to them, they asked him, "Lord, are you going to free Israel from Rome now and restore us as an independent nation?"
7 "The Father sets those dates," he replied, "and they are not for you to know.
8 But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power to testify about me with great effect,
to the people in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, about my death and resurrection."
9 It was not long afterwards that he rose into the sky and disappeared into a cloud, leaving them staring after him.
10 As they were straining their eyes for another glimpse, suddenly two white-robed men were standing there among them,
11 and said, "Men of Galilee, why are you standing here staring at the sky?
Jesus has gone away to heaven, and some day, just as he went, he will return!"
When the Lord Jesus was killed on the cross on Crucifixion Friday, He was put hurriedly into a new tomb because His body had to be buried before sunset on that day.
The enemies of Jesus - who had got the authorities to kill Him on the cross - also persuaded the authorities to place an armed guard at the tomb, so that no-one could attempt to steal the body, and claim that Jesus was alive.
However, a few armed guards could not keep the Lord Jesus in His tomb on Resurrection Sunday. And when the women went that Sunday to properly embalm His body, they found the tomb open and unguarded by soldiers. But they did meet two men in white who told them that Jesus was risen from the dead and that He would meet His friends in Galilee as He had told them before His death!
The women believed the men in white, but the other followers of Jesus had a difficult time absorbing this news, simply because no human had ever come back from death in this manner before.
The followers did believe when Jesus continued to meet with them over a forty-day period between Him taking up His life again and His going up into heaven.
From their scriptures, the followers of Jesus understood that their Messiah would once again restore Israel as an independent nation. So they asked Jesus if His was now ready to take them out from under Roman domination.
These followers completely misunderstood what time it was on God's Timetable for the earth.
They did not understand that they stood on the threshold of a completely new era of God's dealings with human beings.
They thought the Messiah - the Lord Jesus Christ - was only for them and their nation.
They didn't understand that God was now about to offer the salvation that Jesus had purchased with His death, to the whole human race. They didn't understand that God was about to send them all over the earth to preach that every human being could now have access to the Lord God, because the Blood of Jesus has made a way for us to enter His presence just as if we never sinned.
The men in white told these astonished followers of Jesus, that He would come back to the earth in the same way that they had just seen Him go into heaven.
The first time the Lord Jesus came to earth, He came as a baby - the same way all others humans enter the earth.
However, that day He left the earth, having conquered death and having taken up His life again. That day, according to the scriptures above, the Lord Jesus "rose into the sky and disappeared into a cloud, leaving them staring after him."
After this stunning event, the men in white told them this:
"Jesus has gone away to heaven, and some day, just as he went, he will return!"
We are in the time of history when followers of the Lord Jesus are living with the enthusiastic expectation that He will come again from heaven, just as He went into heaven that day!
Lord Jesus Christ,
teach me how to live with the enthusiastic expectation
that YOU will indeed come again from heaven,
just as He went into heaven that day!