Today, we’re going to journey back in time to a very special day in history. Imagine you’re standing on a hill outside the ancient city of Jerusalem. You’re not alone. The disciples, Jesus’ closest friends, are there too. There’s a hush of anticipation in the air. Everyone’s eyes are fixed on one person: Jesus.
But this is no ordinary day. This day, Jesus is about to do something extraordinary. Today, we’re going to learn about the Ascension of Jesus!
Do you remember what ‘ascension’ means? That’s right, it means ‘going up.’ And that’s exactly what happened to Jesus. He went up, up, and up, right into heaven! It sounds incredible, doesn’t it? But why did Jesus ascend into heaven, and what does it mean for us?
This is a thrilling story that comes right after Easter. Just as Jesus promised, He came back to life after three days, and now, 40 days later, He’s preparing to return to His Father in heaven. But don’t worry, He doesn’t leave His disciples, or us, empty-handed.
Stay tuned as we uncover the wondrous tale of Jesus’ Ascension, learn about the promise He left behind for His disciples, and discover what it all means for us today.
Get ready for an exciting adventure, kids! Don’t forget to bring your curiosity and lots of questions as we dive into this amazing story from the Bible.
This passage gives us the “opening act” of the book of Acts. It also explains the last words and actions of Jesus before He ascended into Heaven. It’s an important episode in church history, and one that might raise questions for students. Take turns reading verses, or read them out loud for younger children.
Acts 1:1-5 ESV In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, (2) until the day when he was taken up, after he had given commands through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. (3) He presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (4) And while staying with them he ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, “you heard from me; (5) for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
(For older students) It would be helpful to first briefly explain to students how this is the first chapter of the book of Acts, which gives us the history of the early Christian church and describes what happened to the disciples as they carried on the work of Jesus. The author of Acts is Luke, a doctor who worked with Paul, and here he addresses an audience that might be a specific individual or a group of God-lovers (as that is what “Theophilus” means).
Remind or explain to students that Jesus was on Earth for forty days after He rose from the dead. During that time, He appeared to many people to prove that He was alive. He then instructed His disciples to wait for the coming of the Spirit. This meant that the Spirit was worth waiting for, and that His followers could trust His promise. They would have to be patient, but knew something great was coming.
Ask: What are some things you have to wait for? Why is it sometimes hard to be patient?
Acts 1:6-8 ESV So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (7) He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. (8) But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
The disciples are naturally curious about the plans Jesus had. They asked when He would return and restore His kingdom, but it’s possible they still primarily had political thoughts in mind, rather than Godly power. Jesus explains that it is not for them to know when the end would be or what His full plans for. It’s not for us to know, either. We wonder and speculate about End Times or the return of Jesus, but the truth is we don’t know, and that’s for the best. God will work in His own time.
However, Jesus promises that the disciples will receive power. This is not so much a command as a fact and promise. The Holy Spirit would come, and the disciples would become witnesses everywhere.
Ask: Would you want to know the future if you could? Why do you think it’s best that we don’t know what lies ahead?
Acts 2:9-11 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. (10) And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, (11) and said, “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.”
Why would Jesus depart Earth in this way? There are a few interesting things that are taking place with this Ascension. Jesus is departing up into Heaven, lifted into a cloud of glory. He wants the disciples to know that He is gone for good, not merely slipping away or disappearing. The “men” who appear (perhaps angels or maybe even Moses and Elijah) encourage the disciples not to stand staring into the clouds. It’s not for them to wonder about where Jesus went or why, or speculate on His return. They are to wait and prepare to receive His spirit. There is a promise that Jesus will come back. “In the same way as you saw him go” indicates that perhaps He will return from the clouds with glory, possibly even in the same place, but we cannot know all of the details. We do know He promises to return, and has given us the power of His spirit for comfort and hope!
Ask: What is our job as Christians? How can we trust in the promises of Jesus?
Optional passage for additional or alternate instruction:
If time allows, or if you’d like to explore another Scripture option, consider using the Ascension narrative from the Gospel of Luke.
Luke 24:44-49 ESV Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” (45) Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (46) and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, (47) and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. (48) You are witnesses of these things. (49) And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”
This is certainly not the first time that Jesus explained to His disciples who He was. Once more, He opens their minds to Scripture and reminds them why He came to Earth and how He fulfilled God’s words and plans. Jesus also promises to send the Spirit to help His disciples, but instructs them to wait in Jerusalem until that help arrives.
Ask: (Question best for older students) Can you think of another time that Jesus explained who He was to the disciples?
Luke 24:50-53 ESV And he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. (51) While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. (52) And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, (53) and were continually in the temple blessing God.
It’s worth noting that the last thing Jesus did on Earth was bestow blessing on His disciples. He was carried into heaven and left them with a job to do and encouragement to wait for His Spirit.
Ask: What would you do if you saw Jesus go up into Heaven?
Close with prayer, thanking God for sending His spirit and asking for His help in sharing His good news with others.
Sunday School Lesson: The Ascension of Jesus
Objective: To help children understand the significance of the Ascension of Jesus and its relevance to their lives.
Materials Needed: Bible, Ascension coloring pages, markers or crayons, helium balloons, permanent markers.
- Introduction (5 minutes)
- Start with a brief prayer.
- Ask the children if they know what “Ascension” means. Explain the term in simple language.
- Bible Story Time (10 minutes)
- Read the story of Jesus’ Ascension from a children’s Bible (Acts 1:1-11 and Luke 24:44-53).
- Make sure to explain any difficult words or concepts as you go along.
- Discussion (10 minutes)
- Ask the children why they think Jesus ascended into heaven.
- Discuss how Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to help and guide us.
- Explain that even though Jesus isn’t physically present with us, He is always with us in spirit.
- Activity: Ascension Coloring Pages (15 minutes)
- Hand out Ascension coloring pages and markers or crayons.
- As the children color, encourage them to think about the story and what it means.
- Activity: Ascension Balloons (15 minutes)
- Give each child a helium balloon and a permanent marker.
- Ask them to write or draw something they learned from the story on the balloon.
- Once everyone is finished, go outside and release the balloons into the sky, explaining that just as the balloons are ascending to the sky, Jesus ascended to heaven.
- Conclusion (5 minutes)
- Recap the main points of the lesson.
- Encourage the children to remember that Jesus is always with them, even though they can’t see Him.
- Close with a prayer.
Note: Always ensure the safety of the children during the balloon activity and make sure it is environmentally friendly. If releasing balloons is not an option, you can simply have the children let go of the balloons indoors and watch them rise to the ceiling.
In Luke 24:44-53, Jesus ascends into heaven after telling his disciples that they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit and will receive power to be his witnesses. This passage is a reminder of the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives, as he empowers us to be witnesses for Jesus and to live according to God’s will. The Ascension of Jesus is a joyful occasion, as it celebrates the victory of Jesus over death and reminds us that he is still with us through the Holy Spirit. We can have hope and joy, knowing that Jesus is with us and that he will return one day.
Here are some specific things that we can do to be witnesses for Jesus:
- Pray for others
- Serve others
- Share the good news of Jesus with others
- Be kind and compassionate to others
- Live our lives in a way that honors God
When we do these things, we are following Jesus’ example and we are being witnesses for him. We are also showing the world the love of God.