Damien F. Mackey
“When [Jesus] 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. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy.
And they stayed continually at the Temple, praising God”.
Jesus Christ, a Divine Person, having completed his earthly work of Redemption of our fallen human race, returned to his Father in heaven from whence he had come.
This Gospel incident will be taken up and aped by Islam in one of its many biblical appropriations. According to Roger Waite in The Lost History of Jerusalem:
The Dome of the Rock was built 50 years later by another Muslim Caliph, Abd al-malik. Part of his reasoning for building on the site of the Rock was to lure christians away from worshipping at the site where Jesus footprints were supposedly embedded in the Rock. Later Muslim traditions of Mohammed s ascension from it and many others were added in centuries afterwards. That massive oblong rock features in the descriptions of Fort Antonio [sic] and is completely absent in the biblical and extra-biblical descriptions of the true Temple of God.
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Mohammed could not have ascended into heaven for the simple reason that – apart from any other considerations – Mohammed was a non-historical composite (mainly biblical) character. The fictitious Mohammed has – like other such creations of world religions, such as the Buddha (who is probably based largely upon Moses), Apollonius of Tyana, and the like – some uncanny similarities to the Jesus Christ of the Gospels, especially in Jesus’s miraculous aspects.
Roger Waite tends to follow the late Dr. Ernest L. Martin in his identification of key sites for Jesus in relation to Jerusalem, and I think that Roger has made a wise choice in so doing. Here is what the latter has written in the same article re various sites, including that of the Ascension, with reference to Dr. Martin:
The following quotes from Ernest Martin show the evidence supporting the fact that the tomb of Christ was located on the Mount of Olives and how the Mount of Olives became a new Mount Zion for early christians: What is not usually recognized even by many Christian people today is the fact that the area of the Mount of Olives was where Jesus actually lived when he was in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Not only was the region his “habitual” place for meeting with his apostles (Luke 22:39), and “where he many times met there with his disciples” (John 18:2), but “by day he was teaching in the Temple, but by night he would go out and lodge on the Mount of Olives” (Luke 21:37). Even the village of Bethany where … he sometimes resided was on the eastern slopes of this same Mount of Olives (Mark 11:1). Jesus’ home in Jerusalem was on Olivet. It could be rightly said that the district of the Mount of Olives was the “home” of Jesus when he was in Jerusalem. Other than the time he taught in the Temple or the occasion of the Last Supper (which took place within the city of Jerusalem), all the other teachings of Jesus near Jerusalem were conducted on the Mount of Olives It was customary in Jewish circles to call the Mount of Olives by the name “the Mount of the Anointing” (Parah 3:6) [The olives produced there were used for anointing oil]. If one use the Greek language to translate this Hebrew rendering, it is quite a significant sign of identification. Through the Greek the Mount of Olives would be called “the Mount of the Christ [Anointed One].” Christians were well aware of this significance. When Jesus was in the Jerusalem area it was on the Mount of Olives that he made his abode (Mark 11:1; Luke 21:37; 22:39; John 18:2). Olivet was truly “his” mount. There were other things that made it “the Mount of the Anointing (Christ).” The Mount of Olives was also the holiest area around Jerusalem other than the Temple itself. I have explained the reason for this in previous chapters. We should recall that the Mount of Olives had its special sanctification because it housed the Miphkad Altar (where the Red Heifer and the other sin offerings were burnt outside the camp). But to Christians it had even a greater anointing. More significant than anything else, it was the area where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected from the dead. It was also near the place of Jesus’ ascension, and the site to which he will return from heaven (Acts 1:9-11; Zechariah 14:1-4)
In the period before Constantine it is not difficult to see why Christians from around the world would pay attention to the Mount of Olives as a place of special holiness. What may be surprising to some of us is the fact that they paid particular attention to the cave very near the summit of Olivet and located about a hundred yards to the south and a little west of the monticulus “the little hill on the mountain” that the Bordeaux Pilgrim described. But why a cave? This may at first seem puzzling because there is not the slightest mention of such a cave in the Gospels nor in any place in the New Testament. That’s right, there is no attention attached to any cave, but there is considerable importance shown to a TOMB – the tomb of Jesus from whence he came forth from the dead! Could the cave on the Mount of Olives have been the tomb of Jesus? There is every reason to believe that it was! In the work called “The Gospel of the Nazaraeans” (written in the second century) it was said that a guard of armed soldiers sent to the tomb of Jesus were set “over against THE CAVE” (Hennecke Schneemelcher, The New Testament Apocrypha, vol.l, p.150). This record shows that even the tomb itself was already reckoned as a cave at the time that Jesus was placed in it. But there is more. In the late second or early third century work called “The Acts of Pilate,” Jesus’ burial place was called both a tomb and a cave in the same context. That work has Joseph of Arimathea saying: “See, I have placed it [the body of Jesus] in my NEW TOMB, 176
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The Ascension of Jesus is often linked with his so-called Second Coming.
But, re the numbering here, see my article:
Beyond the “Second Coming”
The connection between the two events is properly made based upon Acts 1:9-11:
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee’, they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’.
The first return of Jesus Christ was to be like (‘will come back in the same way’) his Ascension (‘[as] you have seen him go into heaven’).
The Preterist Archive, in the article:
The “Second Coming” of Jesus
Associated with the End of Jerusalem in A.D.70, the End of Life, or the End of the World
includes a “Comment” that I think offers a far preferential timetable for that Coming of Christ, by contrast with what I would call his Final Coming (I do not necessarily accept the following identification of the 666 Beast with the emperor Nero)
I have been a partial preterist for about 20 years now. I don’t hold to know everything about eschatology, but I can tell you I know a lot better than some of the so-called teachers of it today. Some of the absolute nonsense that is circulating in the Church today is one reason why the Church is in riducule [sic] amongst the unbelievers. The last great world kingdom is not the revived Roman Empire ….The last great world kingdom is THE KINGDOM OF GOD! That Kingdom began at the Ascension when Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father and began to rule over the affairs of mankind without the benefit of human government. The events of the Tribulation Period occurred from 66AD until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD, a span of 42 Biblical months, based on a 360 day year, just as Revelation stated it would. The Fourth Beast was Rome. 666 was Kaisar Neron. The False Prophet was the Sanhedrin which sold out the Jewish people of the time and supported Nero. The Mark of the Beast is the antithesis of the command of God for the Jews to bind the words of YHWH upon their hearts and minds. (i.e. the head and the hand) Since they refused to obey, they instead bound the Mark of Nero to themselves, trusting (and in essence worshipping) the Beast. They worshipped Neron Kaisar rather than Yeshua ha Mashiach and therefore reaped the fiery judgment of 70AD. Jerusalem (which incidentally also sits on 7 hills) became the seat of the Beast, Israel figuratively became a whore. (See also Ezekiel 16, Jeremiah 50-51). God judged unbelieving Israel, but spared the remnant (the Church) to give the Gospel to the Gentiles (the remainder of the world). If we understand the 1000 years to mean figuratively a long period, then a lot of things make sense. It also makes sense to consider that the end of the 1000 years has come and Satan has been released from the bottomless pit …. There will be one last attempt by Satan to rule mankind, which will result in the Last Day Coming of Christ, i.e. the Judgment of the World. The Great Tribulation and destruction of Jerusalem were the End of the Age, not the End of the WORLD. ….
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For my view of Satan’s latter day release from the pit and his worldwide effect, see:
Satan, permitted by God to test holy Job to the limit, and almost beyond it, for a greater good, has been allowed by the Almighty again, in the case of the Church, that same terrifying liberty.
Church Undergoing Test of Prophet Job. Part Two: Saint John Paul II