Jesus ascends when?
Most Christians think of the Ascension as an event that takes place 40 days after Jesus' resurrection. However, if we look a little deeper we will find that the Gospel accounts from Mark, Luke and John do not correspond to the story found in the Acts of the Apostles. What's more confounding is Luke, who is believed to be the writer of Acts describes the ascension two different ways and at two different times. Once in his Gospel and the other in his book of Acts.
The ascension into heaven is traditionally celebrated in the Church 10 days (40 days after the resurrection) before Pentecost (the 50th day). From that perspective it seems as though Jesus was resurrected and then placed in a kind of limbo. During that liminal time he is teaching us a few more things, encouraging us, promising us another advocate (the Holy Spirit) and then lifts out of sight. In the Gospel of Luke, however, all the appearances of Jesus happen on Easter Sunday and Jesus’ ascension takes place later that same day. In the Gospel of John, Jesus ascends after he meets with Mary Magdelene and then is seen at least for the next two weeks. In Mark, Jesus meets with Mary Magdelene, then two disciples and then the eleven and on the same night ascends. Which is right?
If we try to reconcile the chronology, I think we are missing the point. We are seeing things from the perspective of time and space rather than from a perspective of eternity which is God's perspective. As I said before, all this is so mysterious. And it should be. Our ways of thinking and understanding are not God’s ways. Jesus told Mary Magdalene in the Gospel of John “stop holding on to me.” (Jn 20:17) Stop thinking of me as someone who must remain physically with you to be effective. Stop thinking of me as an historical figure. Think of me as one with the Father. What's more, think of yourself as one with the Father. In that same verse Jesus tells Mary Magdalene, "I am going to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." Jesus is reminding us that we are being adopted. We will receive the same inheritance as Jesus. Earthly time and space is transitionary. Stop clinging to the earthly realm. Begin to see me and you as beings of eternity. Time and space is a transitionary time of learning to love and be loved. Let me go to the Father and prepare a place for you while you remain here and continue the work I have begun. Stop clinging on to me as though I am the only one who can teach and preach and heal. You can do the same and in some cases do it better. Jesus says, "Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father." (Jn 14:12) I am going to the Father so I can complete this adoption process. In order to do finish the work I have started. I want you with the help of the "Spirit of Truth," (Jn 15:26) to see things as I see them and continue the work of bringing my people home.
Here's what we know. Jesus died, resurrected and ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. When did Jesus ascend? On Easter Sunday, and on the 40th day after the resurrection, and now, and forever. Jesus' life death, resurrection and ascension is not a one time event, it is an even that took place, is taking place and will take place eternally. It is not an earthly event, it is a heavenly event that occurred, is occurring and will continue to occur. It is a mystery that transcends our understanding, It is a continual celebration, a continual banquette, a never ending Mass of love and life and eternal joy that all who believe in Him inherit.