A Special Blessing
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.
How like Jesus to bless the disciples before He leaves them! From the vicinity of Bethany–meaning the “house of sorrows”–from His earthly incarnation–He ascends into heaven to reside there. My mind is racing through all the blessings the patriarchs, prophets, and priests gave prior to their departures from this earth. How much greater the blessings from the mouth of Jesus flowing out of His love for us! We find in the book of Numbers this great priestly blessing:
The LORD said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “‘ “The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.”‘ (Numbers 6:22-26)
In like manner, Jesus lifts His hands and blesses His followers. Although the exact words are not recorded, we can be sure they were words of encouragement and comfort.
“‘He lifted up His hands and blessed them.’ He did not go away in displeasure, but in love; He left a blessing behind Him. He blessed them to show that, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them to the end. ‘While He was blessing them, he left them’; to intimate that His leaving them did not put an end to His blessing them. He began to bless them on earth, but He went to heaven to go on with it.” (Matthew Henry)
The writer of Hebrews tells us:
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
We, too, have every reason to hold on firmly to the faith we profess, for He who has called us is faithful! It is Jesus who saves us, lives to intercede for us, allows us to approach the throne of grace with confidence, and grants us abundant grace, mercy, and peace. Paul tells us:
The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (1 Thessalonians 5:24)
For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
Furthermore, he goes on to say in Ephesians that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)
God has called down divine favor upon His children, conferring blessings upon each one of us. We have been blessed with every spiritual enrichment needed for our spiritual lives–we need only to appropriate them by faith.
Take It to Heart
“God doesn’t just give us grace; He gives us Jesus, the Lord of grace.”
(Joni Erickson Tada)
“We came into this world wretched, miserable, and undone creatures, in cruel bondage to sin and Satan, under guilt and under wrath, hostile toward God—the fountain of blessedness—and in a state of condemnation leading to everlasting destruction. But when a man is converted, he is brought out of that state of woe and misery into a sure title to glory, honor, and peace forever. When once a man is converted, all this blessedness that we have heard of is his; he has an absolute right to it. God’s work is accomplished for it; His faithful promise is given.” (Jonathan Edwards)