May 5, 2024

Jesus’ Blessing Leaves a Lasting Impression

Passage: Luke 24:50-53

Jonah Albrecht

Sunday Before Ascension


Luke 24:50-53

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

Everyone knows the importance of first impressions. What people may not know, or forget, is how quickly an impression is made and how long that impression will last. According to researchers, when you meet someone for the first time, his or her brain forms an impression about you in 1/10th of a second. By 4 seconds, they have already made certain judgments that will be finalized in 30 seconds. Within the first minute, they have processed as many as 10,000 visual and tactical clues as to who you are.

How much weight does the first impression carry? The decision of whether or not to hire you is made unconsciously in the first 30 seconds. The impression is so strong that it can take six months of regular contact to change it. Most of the time, the initial impression is accurate.

What about last impressions? They’re just as important because that’s how you will be remembered. Your last impression will be the lasting one.

Jesus made a first and a last impression. He arrived with humility, born to peasants, and laid in a Bethlehem feeding trough. His humble beginning led to a humble life and ended with seemingly helpless death. But the cross wasn’t the final word. The Ascension is. He will return just as they had seen Him go. Jesus’ blessing leaves a lasting impression for all His followers. 1. It prepares you for your life as a Christian. 2. It gives you an assurance of His return.

And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. The last impression Jesus leaves with His disciples is His hands raised in blessing over them. Even though Luke doesn’t give us the exact words of His blessing in this Gospel, we still know how significant this is. Think of all the times that Jesus raised His hands in blessing and what happened next:

Jesus blessed 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish and proceeded to feed a multitude of people. His blessing didn’t just take the edge off the people’s hunger, they ate until they were satisfied.

He blessed the bread during the Last Supper, then the win and provided with His disciples, and us, the most precious sacrament. The Sacrament that brings us the forgiveness of sins in our Savior’s body and blood. When Jesus’ blesses, pretty amazing things happen. His blessing is more than just speaking well on someone.

When the disciples looked upon their beloved friend as He blessed them, what would they see? The love of God made manifest. They saw the holes in His hands; the scars that He bears from the most important self-sacrificing act of grace the world will ever see. They see the very forgiveness of their sins. It is those same hands that are outstretched in blessing over you and me today. Every day we are blessed by the Lord. We are given breath in our lungs, strength in our bodies, and peace in our souls. Every day we can look upon those same hands outstretched, not in accusation or judgement, but in love. In assurance that your sins and mine are forgiven.

In the midst of a terrifying situation, something outside your control, it is often the words “it is going to be okay” that brings a tsunami of relief. This is what the blessing from their Lord did for the disciples. His blessing being the last impression they see would be a continual peace of mind that they were going to be okay. They would endure some terrifying situations. From being stoned, imprisoned, shipwrecked, persecuted, and often put to death, they could always look upon that last impression of their Savior. It is going to be okay. The Apostle Paul said in best in Philippians 1:21,  For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

Jesus left a last impression. That means His hands, raised in blessing, are over you and me as well. His same calm assurance “It is going to be okay” is your tsunami of relief. Lord willing, you won’t have to endure the same level of persecution as did Jesus’ disciples, but you will endure persecution. You will endure hardships. Nothing about living in this world is easier simply because you are a Christian. . .except you have the hands of your God outstretched in blessing every day of your life. For the disciples, who would face the penalty of death for their mission of spreading the Gospel, it was the assurance that their lives were in the hands of God.

For you, it is the assurance that your life has been redeemed by God. Each one of you will embark on your own trials. It may be difficulties within your family: discord among each other or an overall sense of helplessness concerning their well-being; it could be walking a fine line of honoring your faith at work when confronted with things you don’t agree with; or it might be the most intense internal struggle that no one knows about but you. In faith, you can look upon your Savior, the same way the disciples did at His Ascension, and see those scarred hands of love bringing you the comfort that your life is now in His hands. God does act as your heavenly Father and will carry you throughout your life as a Christian.

52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.

99 times out of 100 a farewell is a sad occasion. Especially when you know that you will not see that person face to face again. Certainly, no one departs from a farewell with great and immediate joy. But that is exactly the reaction the disciples had. How? They just saw their friend, teacher, brother, and leader for the last 3 years leave their sight. How is it that they can have great joy and worship God?

Because Jesus made a lasting impression. Matthew records for us some of the words Jesus spoke before He ascended into heaven, words that do not appear here in Luke. You all might know these words well: And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. These words changed what should have been a sorrowful occasion into one of great wonder, joy, and excitement.

Auf Wiedersehen is a German word that literally means “on again see,” or until I see you again. Jesus did not simply say good bye forever. He gave them a promise of, “Until I see you again.” He did so in more than one way. For some, like Peter and Paul, He appeared to them in visions, or in direct eye-sight. Also, to Peter and Paul, and to all the others, He is talking about the reunion that is to take place when Jesus calls them home to Himself. Whether it was His second return in glory, or, as was the case for the disciples and many others, their falling asleep in Christ, they would see their beloved teacher again. That is one of the reasons they could return with such great joy and excitement to share with others the message of what Jesus had done for them.

Another reason is in what they did when they returned. They worshipped God and were continually in the temple. Every time they joined together in worship, they were joined by the same Jesus who ascended into heaven. Jesus said as much, where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them. That is why they spent so much time in prayer and in the temple preaching about Jesus. He had promised to be right there in the midst of them every single day.

Jesus’ lasting impression of Auf Wiedersehen is spoken to you as well. When Jesus called you to be His own child, it came along with this blessing: You will see Him again. Job recognized this when he uttered his famous words, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. 26 And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, 27 whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me! Whether it over a thousand years before Jesus came, or whether it is over a thousand years after Jesus ascended into heaven, the blessing is the same: You will be reunited, face to face, with the Savior you love; with the Savior who loves you and who was struck in the heel for you.

Every time you enter this building, or join one another in prayer, or receive the Lord’s Supper in the very body and blood of Jesus, the words of Jesus are fulfilled in your life. He is with you. In worship, He comes and refreshes you with the blessings found in His Word. In prayer, He intercedes on your behalf to ensure that your prayer is heard and answered by God. In the Lord’s Supper, you partake in something more than just symbolism. You are united together with the very body and blood of your Savior.

With promises like that, it is no wonder the disciples departed with great joy! That is how it should be all the time. And yet, it isn’t, is it? Doom and gloom often settle over us like a cloud and block our vision of the Lord’s presence in our lives. Distractions abound, and it is easier to go through the motions instead of eagerly going into the house of the Lord to receive from Him nourishment for our souls. Even in circumstances like these, Jesus is with you. His comfort is with you. And, most importantly, His forgiveness is there for you.

Even in the doom and gloom of this life, you are able to have the same great joy the disciples experienced. That is something that does not have to fade away. Especially when you remember the lasting impression of Jesus’ blessing:

How it prepares you for your life as a Christian. However dangerous your path may be, your Savior’s calm assurance “It will be okay” is your tsunami of relief. How it reminds you of Jesus’ Auf Wiedersehen. He is coming again. While He is not visibly present, He still remains with us in a very real and comforting way. May this gracious blessing of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all, Amen.

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