For the lack of better phraseology, I will refer to Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, and Pentecost Day as being “holy” days in the Christian calendar, because of their significance and importance. However, there is another “holy” day that Christians have largely forgotten about: Ascension Day.
Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus and His disciples went to Mount Olivet, near Jerusalem. There, Jesus promised His followers that they would soon receive the Holy Spirit, and He instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until the Spirit had come. Then Jesus blessed them, and as He gave the blessing, He ascended into heaven. Jesus’ ascension is described by the writer Dr. Luke in both Luke 24:50,51 and Acts 1:9-11. “Ascension Day” this year took place on May 26th, forty days after Easter Sunday. Jesus’ ascension was a literal, bodily return to heaven. He rose from the ground gradually and visibly, observed by many intent onlookers. As the disciples strained to catch a last glimpse of Jesus, a cloud hid Him from their view, and two angels appeared and promised Christ’s return “in just the same way that you have watched Him go” (Acts 1:11). But, Jesus had told them he would not return again until his second coming. His presence on earth in the interim period would be in the presence of the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Godhead.
On the gotquestions.org website, the Christian apologists there state that the ascension of Jesus is meaningful for the following reasons:
1) It signaled the end of His earthly ministry. God the Father had lovingly sent His Son into the world at Bethlehem, and now the Son was returning to the Father. The period of human limitation was at an end.
2) It signified success in His earthly work. All that He had come to do, He had accomplished.
3) It marked the return of His heavenly glory. Jesus’ glory had been veiled during His sojourn on earth, with one brief exception at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9).
4) It symbolized His exaltation by the Father (Ephesians 1:2-23). The One with whom the Father is well pleased (Matthew 17:5) was received up in honor and given a name above all names (Philippians 2:9).
5) It allowed Him to prepare a place for us (John 14:2).
6) It indicated the beginning of His new work as High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and Mediator of the New Covenant (Hebrews 9:15).
7) It set the pattern for His return. When Jesus comes to set up the Kingdom, He will return just as He left-literally, bodily, and visibly in the clouds (Acts 1:11; Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 24:30; Revelation 1:7).
Currently, the Lord Jesus is in heaven. The Scriptures frequently picture Him at the right hand of the Father-a position of honor and authority (Psalm 11:1; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 8:1). Christ is the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18), the giver of spiritual gifts (Ephesians 4:7-8), and the One who fills all in all (Ephesians 4:9,10).
Jesus then told his disciples to go to Jerusalem and “to wait for the gift my Father promised…in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:7,8). The ascension of Jesus had to happen first, but then ten days later, on Pentecost Sunday (50 days after Easter Sunday), the Holy Spirit came upon and entered into the disciples, the church was born, and the world changed forever.