SOON AFTER the appearance of Jesus to the seven disciples by the Sea of Galilee, a great meeting was held of many who believed in Jesus, on the mountain, in Galilee, where Jesus had told them to come together. It is said that at this meeting more than five hundred people who were followers of Jesus gathered in one place. There Jesus showed himself to the whole company. When they saw him they bowed down to the ground before him; but even then some of them were in doubt whether they had really seen the Lord.
At that time Jesus drew near to this company and said to them:
“All power as the Son of God, and the King of God’s Kingdom in heaven and on earth has been given to me by my Father. I command you, therefore, to go and preach the gospel to all the world, and make disciples of all nations and in all lands. Those who believe on me, baptize in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and teach them to obey all the commands that I have given you. Whoever believes on me as his Saviour shall be saved from his sins; but whoever will not believe, shall suffer the guilt of his sins. And these powers shall be given to those who believe; in my name they shall drive out evil spirits; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up poisonous snakes in their hands and shall suffer no harm; if they drink any poison it shall not hurt them; they will place their hands on sick people, and they shall become well. And I will be with you all the time, even to the very end of the world.”
After this there was a ninth appearance of Jesus to James; not James the brother of John, but another James who was the son of Joseph and Mary, and a younger brother of Jesus. What was said at that appearance has not been told, but from that time James was one of the foremost followers of Jesus, and for many years a leader in the church at Jerusalem. Long after this, James wrote one of the books in the New Testament, the Epistle of James.
Jesus was seen from time to time during forty days by his disciples and followers. We know of ten times in all when Jesus appeared; but there may have been other times of which no mention is made in the gospels or in the other writings of the New Testament. His tenth appearance, as far as we know, and his last, may have been at the upper room in Jerusalem, forty days after he had risen from his tomb. At that time he said:
“When I was with you, I told you this, that every-thing written of me in the books of Moses, and the psalms and the prophets must come to pass.”
Then he opened their minds to understand what was written in the Old Testament.
“Thus,” he said, “it is written that Christ the King of Israel must suffer, and die, and rise again the third day, just as has come to pass. And now you are to go forth and preach that men must everywhere turn from their sins to God, and be forgiven of their sins through the power given to me. And you are to begin your preaching here in Jerusalem, the very place where I have been crucified. I will soon send down on you the Holy Spirit whom my Father has promised. But wait in this city until the power comes upon you from on high.”
Then the risen Christ led them out of the city to the Mount of Olives. No one except those who believed in him could see him, for he was unseen to all other people. As he drew near Bethany he lifted up his hands and blessed his followers. While they were looking at him, and his hands were held out, he rose into the air, higher and higher, until after a time a cloud covered him from their sight, and Jesus the Lord of glory was seen no more.
While they were looking upward, two men dressed in shining white, angels of God, were seen standing beside them. These angels said to the followers of Jesus:
“Men of Galilee, why are you standing here looking up towards the heavens? This Jesus, who has been taken from you, will come again to earth in the very same way that you have seen him go up to heaven.”
So Jesus Christ was taken up to heaven, and there sat down on his throne at the right hand of God. He sits there still, watching over his people until the day shall come for him to return to earth.