Why did Jesus "ascend" into heaven?

but the Apostles received the Holy Spirit before the pentecost.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples
John 20:19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

40 days at the ascension marked Jesus being lifted up to heaven thus fulfilling the OT prophesies of the Kingdom to come so Jesus ascended into heaven having completed the work he was sent to do with the apostles in His Mission on earth to start the Church… 40 symbolic of fullness or completeness. At the Pentecost, the word pente… marked 50 days after the passover feast, the Holy Spirit came upon the heads of the apostles anointing the Church that’s why it marks the official day of the Churches birth…

It’s late here and I have to go.
But how would you reconcile John 20:19 with Acts 1:11 ?

Will check in sometime tomorrow.

Is breathing the spirit into the 10 disciples different from being filled with the H.S.? I think it is but I’m interested in your thought.

Acts 1:11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.

When we die we will see Jesus descend just like He ascended into heaven. Glorified and we too will be glorified…We see what that looks like in the transfiguration… From death into life it is a transformation…Revelation 21:5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”

Well when Jesus breathed on the Apostles, He filled them with the Holy Spirit and sent them out on a mission… That’s what it means to be an apostle… To be sent out… Before the ascension and at the Pentecost with all those gathered.

We see God has breathed the Holy Spirit different times in scripture. When God breathed into Adams nostrils He gave Him life and Adam was in communion with God… When Jesus breathed on the apostles before He ascended into heaven (which we celebrate on Ascension Sunday) Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit anointing them to be priests and sending them out on their mission to spread the faith as priests who were able to baptize, forgive sins, etc. thus building up the Church… When the Holy Spirit came down upon the disciples at the Pentecost it brought life to the Church by anointing it with the HS, and thus in communion with Him… Remember we pray in our profession of faith, I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord giver of life?? Well it is the Spirit which gives life. John 6:63 . The Spirit even gave life to Jesus in Mary’s womb… She was conceived by the Holy Spirit… :slight_smile: When we receive the Holy Spirit at our baptism, we start our new life in Christ… All because of the gifts that God gave us of the Holy Spirit.

Breathing the spirit into the Apostles in John 20:19, who were the first priests of the Church, gave them the ability to forgive sins but not all the Church was gathered there… In other words it passed the authority of God for them to absolve sins directly from Jesus Himself, thus completing the work Jesus was sent to earth for so afterwards Jesus ascended back into heaven because He had taught the apostles what they needed to know and sent them out, anointing them with the Holy Spirit so they had the ability and help doing the things they needed to do in their priestly ministry such as absolving sins, baptizing, marrying, anointing the sick, etc in order to build up the Church and help it increase in numbers… the Holy Spirit wasn’t for them to keep, it was for others as it is now… . When more met in the upper room in the Pentecost later Jesus wasn’t seen in the physical sense (though He was there), and the disciples were greater in number from all nations and gathered together in the upper room. The Holy Spirit came upon them and they began exhibiting the gifts of the Holy Spirit, speaking in tongues, etc., and becoming one with each other in the Spirit of God. So we began a people of One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, Ephesians 4:4-5 and it officially marked the birth date of the Church. Notice Jesus wasn’t physically present there but yet they were in union with each other bound together by the Holy Spirit with Jesus there but not seen, because He had ascended into heaven ten days prior…Now He sits on His throne at the right hand of God remaining King reigning over all of creation…

Oh how do I reconcile the two? I’m sorry I was answering your last question above about the Holy Spirit and kept going…lol

In Acts 1:11, Theophilus, Probably Luke, is recalling the actions that happened at the ascension mentioned on John 20:19 with Jesus and the disciples.,That ties the two together.Read starting with the beginning of Acts 1 and you will see that.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 659, seems to support option 2, emphasis mine:
Jesus’ final apparition ends with the irreversible entry of his humanity into divine glory, symbolized by the cloud and by heaven, where he is seated from that time forward at God’s right hand.

Theatrics? :confused:

Folks! I know this isn’t super-common knowledge, but if you want to know about the Ascension, you have to read the Letter to the Hebrews!

Christ is our High Priest.

The Tabernacle and the Temple was an earthly representation of both Heaven and Earth, with God deigning to allow the Holy of Holies to be a sort of merger with Heaven where He would have His Presence. But the real temple to God was the entire universe and cosmos, and the real Holy of Holies was Heaven and God’s Throne.

Once a year, the High Priest in the Temple in Jerusalem would climb up the steps and go behind the curtain (or “veil”) of the Holy of Holies, hidden from sight of everyone else but God.

After the sacrifice was made (of Himself, by Himself), He had to “go up” (ascend) to the real Holy of Holies, to present the sacrifice to the Father on His Throne and to pray for us.

Jesus is currently, still, in the Holy of Holies, doing His High Priest job. When He comes out, that will be the Second Coming.

Paul goes on a bit about this, so I really encourage you to read it all, and to read some good commentaries on Hebrews. Anyway…

Here are some of the important bits in Hebrews. Look 'em up. (I am sparing you a wall of text!)

Hebrews 3:1. Hebrews 4:14-16 and 5:1-10.

Hebrews 6:18-20 -

“…the hope set before us which we have as an anchor of the soul, sure and firm, and which enters in even within the veil where the forerunner Jesus is entered for us, made a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchizadek.

Hebrews 7:24-28; 8:1-6.

Hebrews 9:6-8; 11-12; 23-27 –

"…into the first tabernacle the priests indeed always entered, accomplishing the offices of sacrifices. But into the second, the high priest alone, once a year; not without blood, which he offers for his own, and the people’ s ignorance. The Holy Ghost signifying this, that the way into the Holy of Holies was not yet made manifest, while the former tabernacle was yet standing.

"But Christ, being come, a high priest of the good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. Neither by the blood of goats, or of calves, but by His own blood, He has entered once into the Holy of Holies, having obtained eternal redemption.

"It is necessary therefore that the patterns of heavenly things should be cleansed with these [ie, with blood and sacrifices]; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. **For Jesus is not entered into the Holy of Holies made with hands, the patterns of the true - but into heaven itself, that He may appear now in the presence of God for us. **

"Nor yet that He should offer himself often, as the high priest enters into the Holy of Holies every year with the blood of others. For then He ought to have suffered often from the beginning of the world.

“But now, once, at the end of ages, He has appeared for the destruction of sin, by the sacrifice of Himself. And as it is appointed to men once to die, and after this the judgment; so also Christ was offered once to exhaust the sins of many. The second time He shall appear without sin to those who expect him, to salvation.”

I hope this helps. It explained a lot to me.

The other important bit about the Ascension was that there’s a Messianic prophecy that the Messiah will come at the Mount of Olives. That’s why Jesus left from there, and then that’s why the angels said, “This Jesus Who is taken up from you into heaven, shall come again as you have seen Him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)

Because that’s where Jesus will come back to Jerusalem. (That’s also probably why Jesus got asked about what the sign of His coming would be, when He was sitting around on the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24:3.)

Zechariah 14:3-5 –

"Then the Lord shall go forth, and shall fight against those nations as when He fought in the day of battle.

"And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is over against Jerusalem toward the east.

"And the Mount of Olives shall be divided in the middle, east and west, with a very great opening. And half of the mountain shall be separated to the north, and half of it to the south.

“And you shall flee to the valley of those mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall be joined even to the next… and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Him.”

This is an important distinction to make too. Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory are “states”, not “places” and exist outside of the space time continuum. That is difficult for those of us who are in the continuum to grasp sometimes.

I also liked what you wrote that those in purgatory are on their way to heaven (it is not like a 3rd option).

In his book, “Jesus of Nazareth, Part 2; Holy Week: From the Entrance into Jerusalem to the Resurrection,” in the Epilogue, “He Ascended into Heaven—He Is Seated at the Right Hand of the Father, and He Will Come Again in Glory,” Pope Benedict XVI suggests on page 281 that Jesus ascended into Heaven that he might no longer be physically present to his disciples in a single location but be spiritually “present to [his disciples] in a new and powerful way . . . permanently among them, in the way that only God can be close to us.”

There’s something you’re missing…Mintaka, Though I enjoyed reading your post!

There will be a heavenly Jerusalem… That’s heaven… the Holy of Holies is at the mass right where Jesus is ascended and we kneel before Him…

The ascending of Jesus cross, is the death that we enter into at the paschal mystery and Jesus is lifted up at the altar, the Holy of Holies…

And Jesus will come on a cloud for the rest of the body… the cloud of witnesses… We will be glorified by God with Jesus to make one Glorified Body of Christ…Phillippians 3:21…This happens every day at the mass but at the last mass on earth, we will be lifted up for the last time to be with Jesus and those already with Him to be transformed into the glorified body of Christ… This happens in an instant and we will experience the final judgment at that same instant…

From your quote…

“And you shall flee to the valley of those mountains, for the valley of the mountains shall be joined even to the next… and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Him.”

After rereading my post, I think I may have made a poor word choice when I used the word “spiritually” to describe the way Jesus is now present to us. “Spiritually-discernible,” as in 1 Corinthians 2:14, is probably a better word choice to describe the way Jesus is now present to us, since Jesus’ presence in the Eucharist is, of course, not only spiritual but real and substantial.

Yes, it’s quite true that we live in Christ now, that the Mass is a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb, and that the priest at Mass is in persona Christi, presenting Christ’s once-for-all sacrifice to the Father.

But what I left out was why Acts 1:9 said,

“And when he had said these things, while they looked on, he was raised up: and a cloud received him out of their sight.”

Remember, folks, that all throughout the OT and NT, we read about God showing His presence by the “pillar of cloud” (sometimes translated “smoke”) by day that was a pillar of fire by night. The shekhinah glory cloud continued to show up in the Tabernacle and in the Temple, and it was sometimes pictured in the OT as also veiling God’s Throne in Heaven, or perhaps to show that even OT prophets couldn’t yet see everything God had to reveal:

Psalm 17:12/18:11 - (and many others with similar comments about God and clouds)

“And he made darkness his covert, his pavilion round about him; dark waters in the clouds of the air.”

Psalm 103:3/104:3 -

“He makes the clouds His chariot. He walks on the wings of the wind.”


Nahum 1:3 –

“Clouds are the dust of His feet.”

Ezekiel 1:4 -

“And I saw. And behold! A whirlwind came out of the north, and a great cloud, and a fire enfolding it, and brightness was about it.”

And so, in the OT, we also see people talking about God’s coming and the Day of the Lord, and associating it with a cloud.

Isaiah 19:1 -

“Behold! The Lord will ascend upon a swift cloud, and will enter into Egypt, and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in its midst.”

But there is also a very strong hint that clouds go with the Davidic Messiah and king, in Daniel 7: 13-14 –

"… And lo, one like the son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and he came even to the Ancient of Days; and they presented him before him, and He gave him power, and glory, and a kingdom.

“And all peoples, tribes, and tongues shall serve him. His power is an everlasting power that shall not be taken away, and his kingdom shall not be destroyed.”

This continues in the Gospel. At the Baptism of the Lord,

and at the Transfiguration: (Matthew 17:5, cf. Mark 9:6, Luke 9:35)

“And as he was yet speaking, behold! A bright cloud overshadowed them. And lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. Listen to him.””

But Jesus is not just some guy who is associated with God. He is God. Jesus told His disciples that “in those days” –

Matthew 24:30 (also cf. Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27) –

“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven. And then shall all tribes of the earth mourn; and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with much power and majesty.”

Matthew 26:63-65 (cf. Mark 14:62-64) –

"And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, that you tell us if you be the Messiah, the Son of God.”

Jesus says to him, “You have said it. Nevertheless I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of the power of God, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”

“Then the high priest rent his garments, saying, “He has blasphemed; what further need have we of witnesses?””

Revelation 1:7 –

“Behold! He comes with the clouds. And every eye shall see Him, and those also who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth shall bewail themselves because of Him.”

That is why the Second Coming and the end of time are associated with us being taken up to meet Jesus “in the clouds,” (1 Thes. 4:16); and why the two witnesses in Revelation “went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies saw them” (Rev. 11:12) after their death and resurrection; and for that matter, it’s why John said in Rev. 14:14, “And I saw. And behold! A white cloud; and sitting upon the cloud, one like the Son of man.”

So no, the Ascension is not about drama. It is a visual aid, done according to the Scriptures and prophecy. Jesus was showing us that He really was God as well as man, and that He was the Messiah, and that He would come again.

And yes, it would be helpful if priests would preach more about this, but we are also expected to take an interest in the Bible ourselves. Older Catholic and Protestant books tend to talk more about the Ascension from this sort of Biblical perspective. I’m not sure why modern books often shy away from it, but I like finding out these interconnections between OT and NT that would have been obvious to an early Christian.

Wow! Okay. You’ve said so much - I do this too because I love talking about the bible passages more than arguing about what this means or that means in the CCC or saints writings, although we have to use those too. Well, I stopped doing catechism last year so I don’ have to read anything but the bible anymore!

I had asked how you reconcile John 20:21 with Acts 1:11.

I see that you do notice a difference although I know it’s not easy to explain. But you did a good job! In John Jesus is breathing the H.S. into the apostles, from Him, God to them.
in Acts the H.S. comes down from heaven, Jesus had already left and the H.S. replaces Him to all present, they are infused with the H.S., as will be His church until today.

It’s nice that you gave a detailed answer.

p.s. if you care to check, the two on the way to Emmaus were disciples, not apostles.

Perfect. Jesus had to leave so the H.S. could come to stay with us.

You’re a spiritual soul Karen. Wish there were more like you. Events in the bible, such as the ascension, have to be understood in a spiritual way.


You’re right the scriptures say disciples, but really as I have been told we are all apostles because we are all being ‘sent out’ to spread the good news and that’s what an apostle is.One who is sent out… That’s why I used that term, not really thinking about it. Cleopas was not one of the first 12 apostles whom we know as the Apostles but they were also disciples who were sent out to spread the good news. I keep hearing I’m an apostle because we’re being sent out…lol I suppose that’s more in a generic term.lol

Okay I did answer already this question but I will write again about it.

I had asked how you reconcile John 20:21 with Acts 1:11.

John 20:21 is where Jesus passed the Priesthood authority to the disciples, during the 40 days after the resurrection. And Acts 1:11 was written by probably Luke, named Theophilis, who wrote summing up the events surrounding Jesus life on earth, including the ascension. If you read the beginning of Acts 1 and the beginning of Luke 1 you will see that. If you then go to Luke 24:50 you will see he wrote again about the ascension…

Luke 24:50 Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51 While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

But then in Acts 1 Luke relates the resurrection to the ascension, he again mentioned the two men who were standing by the tomb as we see in the dialogue, and Jesus was carried up to heaven and that was the end of the mission that sent Jesus here, the new Kingdom was established on earth and the old passed away. The two men are thought to be the same two men that were on the mountain at the transfiguration and the resurrection, Moses and Elijah. And that brings the OT prophesy to fruition with the coming of the Kingdom. The gate to heaven was now open and we all can enter into it because of Jesus the Messiah… This is about the Parousia or the presence of God, from the resurrection to the ascension summed up by Luke… Jesus died and was lifted up to heaven but always comes back to us at the wedding supper of the Lamb, we need not look up into the sky because Jesus is present and with us always as He said… Each time these things happened they were on Sundays, the Lords day… wow…:slight_smile: and I hope you understand this and I’m not perfect I am bound to make mistakes…:slight_smile: Keep reading the bible and I will too!

God bless you Fran…I have had a holy moment with Gods presence… :slight_smile:

This is also when we believe that Jesus breathed the breath of life into His One Body, the Church. This is why we say that Jesus “founded” the Catholic Church, and that all the Apostles became Catholic.:thumbsup:

Did you notice that Karen concentrated more on Jesus than on WHEN the church became catholic?

It’s important.



I’m wondering if you’ve ever read the following book:

The Lamb’s Supper
the Mass as heaven on earth

written by Scott Hahn

If not, you should get it. I think you’d really like it a lot!


Fran I might do that! I have listened to him on youtubes and on EWTN. OI bought one of his audio cds on the Lords prayer which was really good! I’ve also attended missions at our Church on the Eucharist. The missions are held during advent and Lent. The missions are like inservices or retreats, and they are 2 or 3 evenings.I love learning all their is to learn :slight_smile: Thank you… May the peace of Christ be with you!

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