Introduce the lesson by talking about traveling by plane. Talk about the preparation, the boarding, and the flight in general. You can ask for some first-hand experiences of any child who has been on a plane. Emphasize the point of how the plane starts by taxing on the runway before it takes off into the sky. After reaching the destination, the plane starts its descent and eventually lands back on the runway.
The analogy of the plane can be a great lesson on the ascension of Jesus. Just as the plane took off into the sky, Jesus ascended into the sky and was “enveloped in a cloud” as the disciples witnessed. Subsequently, just as the plane that goes up eventually comes down, Jesus will return again in what we often refer to as the rapture of the church.
After this short discussion, ask the children to turn to Acts 1:9-11 and read the passage together.
The Ascension Story
The ascension story is documented in Acts 1:9-11 and it recounts the events after Jesus rose from the dead and specifically how he ascended into heaven.
After rising from the dead, Jesus spent 40 more days on earth with his disciples. He gave them his final instructions and taught them his word. After these 40 days, Jesus assembled his disciples on Mount Olives which is near Jerusalem.
As they were all gathered, Jesus ascended into heaven. The Bible uses the words “taken up” to refer to this ascension. As the disciples looked at this miraculous event, they saw a cloud enveloping him as he finally disappeared into heaven.
As they continued gazing at the sky, two angels appeared and asked the disciples,
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
This statement served two purposes. First, it was a confirmation that Jesus had gone back to the Father as he had told his disciples that he would. Secondly, it was a reminder to the disciples that he would come again and this time around, it would be to take us with him. The ascension story is therefore important because it is the sign that Jesus has gone to prepare a place and he will one day come back for us.
For Christians, the ascension is a pivotal moment that connects the earthly ministry of Jesus to the ongoing work of the Church and the hope of His eventual return. It serves as a reminder of His divine nature, His role as Savior, and His continued involvement in the lives of believers. Theologically, it underscores the profound truths of Christ’s work, authority, and the promise of His presence, all of which hold deep relevance in the faith journey of His followers.
Why Did Jesus Ascend Into Heaven?
The ascension of Jesus into heaven is arguably one of the most important events in Christian doctrine. Here are a couple of things that the ascension signifies.
- Completion of His Earthly Mission. The ascension of Jesus marked the fruition of his earthly ministry. It was the precursor to the coming of the Holy Spirit who would pick up from where Jesus had left off. Jesus’ work was to die for the sins of mankind and thereby offer sinful man an avenue through which he would get back into a relationship with God.
- Return to His Heavenly Glory. A couple of hours before his crucifixion, Jesus had prayed, “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee” (John 17:1). His ascension to heaven can be looked at as the answer to this prayer. This is because by ascending, Jesus was going back to heaven where he would sit eternally at the right hand of God. This reflects His divine nature and eternal glory. It reaffirms His status as the Son of God.
- Preparation for the Sending of the Holy Spirit. Before His ascension, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to empower and guide His disciples (as detailed in Acts 1:4-8). His departure was a necessary step for the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Spirit’s arrival marked the beginning of the Church and the spread of the Gospel.
- Intercession for Believers. In Romans 8:34, the Bible explains that no one can condemn us because Christ, who ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God intercedes for us. Jesus continually advocates on behalf of His followers, making their prayers and petitions effective before God.
- Anticipation of His Second Coming. In Acts 2:11, the two angels told the disciples that the same Jesus they had seen taken up would also come back for them. This blessed hope fills us with anticipation and hope as we look forward to joining Jesus in heaven.
- In Acts 1:6-8, Jesus asked his disciples to go and wait for the promise of teh Holy Spirit. Discuss why patience is important and give an example of a time you had to wait for something.
- What would you do if you saw Jesus go up into Heaven?
- Discuss the reasons/implications of Jesus’ ascension to his followers.
- One of the implications of the ascension is that Jesus will return to the church. Discuss ways in which Christians can get ready for the Lord’s return.
- Release a helium balloon and estimate how long it will continue floating in the air before it falls down.
- Draw/look at pictures of things that ascend into the sky (e.g. hot-air balloons, airplanes birds, etc ). As the learners draw/look at the pictures, introduce the lesson of how Jesus also ascended to heaven and how his ascension differs from the objects under observation.
- Draw different types of clouds / identify different types of clouds from pictures. Talk about how Jesus was “enveloped with a cloud” during his ascension and how he will return in a similar manner.