The Ascension of Jesus: Historical Fact or an Embellished Legend?

Gospel of Mark (original version):

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.

(No Ascension)

Gospel of Mark (with short ending): 

As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man, dressed in a white robe, sitting on the right side; and they were alarmed. But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here. Look, there is the place they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him, just as he told you.” So they went out and fled from the tomb, for terror and amazement had seized them; and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-24874a" data-link="[a]”>[a]

And all that had been commanded them they told briefly to those around Peter. And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation. 

(No Ascension)

Gospel of Mark (with longer ending)

Now after he rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons. 10 She went out and told those who had been with him, while they were mourning and weeping. 11 But when they heard that he was alive and had been seen by her, they would not believe it.

12 After this he appeared in another form to two of them, as they were walking into the country. 13 And they went back and told the rest, but they did not believe them.

14 Later he appeared to the eleven themselves as they were sitting at the table; and he upbraided them for their lack of faith and stubbornness, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen.<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-24880c" data-link="[c]”>[c] 15 And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-24881d" data-link="[d]”>[d] to the whole creation. 16 The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: by using my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes in their hands,<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-24884e" data-link="[e]”>[e] and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”

An Ascension:

19 So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it.

The Gospel of Matthew:

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” 

(No Ascension)

The Gospel of Luke:

That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

36 While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-26018l" data-link="[l]”>[l] 37 They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet.<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-26022m" data-link="[m]”>[m] 41 While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate in their presence.

44 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, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46 and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-26028n" data-link="[n]”>[n] is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-26030o" data-link="[o]”>[o] of these things. 49 And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

An Ascension:

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.<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-26033p" data-link="[p]”>[p] 52 And they worshiped him, and<sup class="footnote" data-fn="#fen-NRSV-26034q" data-link="[q]”>[q] returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53 and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

The Gospel of John

(No Ascension)

Book of Acts

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

An Ascension:

  When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 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.”

Gary’s Analysis:

So I have a question: If you saw your beloved, back-from-the-dead “leader” levitate off of the ground until he is swallowed up in a cloud, to never be seen again, by you or anyone else on planet earth, would that be something you might include in your one and only “gospel” about him???

But yet Mark, the first gospel written (the original, not the altered versions), Matthew, and John say NOTHING about an Ascension! The ONLY person who mentions an Ascension (in his two books, Luke and Acts) is someone who tells us in the first chapter of Luke that he is NOT an eyewitness to any of these events; that he obtained this information, at best, second hand!

So we are to believe that Matthew and John, two alleged eyewitnesses to both the Resurrection and the Ascension, say not ONE word about this fantastic, supernatural event, but we are asked to believe that someone who was not even an eyewitness is telling us the facts of a real, historical, law-of-gravity-defying event???

Give me a break!

 

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