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Ascension Day

To explain the meaning of the Ascension, when Jesus left his disciples with special instructions.

by Helen Bryant

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)


To explain the meaning of the Ascension, when Jesus left his disciples with special instructions.

Preparation and materials

  • Ascension Day falls on 13 May 2010.
  • Bible reading: Matthew 28.19–20.


  1. I wonder if you have ever been told what to do by someone? For instance, you will have been told to come into assembly, and to sit quietly. Have you heard your mum or dad say, ‘I would like you to do this for me before I get back’? Have you been told by a grandparent or other relative, ‘Be good until the next time I see you’? I am sure you have.
  2. As adults we are told what to do a lot of the time as well. They are called instructions. In order to learn to drive you need a driving instructor. If you are learning to swim you need a swimming instructor. For anything you have never done before, you need some instructions. Many things come with instructions, like washing machines, mobile phones and computers. We may have to spend a long time looking at instructions to tell us how something works or how to put something together. Adults frequently make jokes about ‘flat pack’ furniture with indecipherable instructions.
  3. Life can also be said to come with a set of instructions. Jesus left his disciples with some instructions just before he went up to heaven to be with God. We celebrate this at the Christian festival of Ascension.

    Ascension Day occurs 40 days after Easter Sunday. It is always the Thursday of the sixth week after Easter Sunday.
  4. Thinking about the word ascension, if you ascend something what are you doing? You are going upwards, like an ascent up a mountain. Christians believe that Jesus ascended – went up – into heaven to be with God.
  5. Before Jesus went up to heaven he gave his disciples some very special instructions. He tells them that they are to teach everyone about the good news of the gospel. Matthew (28.19–20) puts it like this:

    ‘Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.’
  6. What is perhaps most important is that he tells them that he will be with them. So even though Jesus has ‘ascended’, he will never leave the disciples. Like a football coach standing on the sideline, or a driving instructor sitting beside you in the car, or like a teacher working alongside you. Perhaps even like a novice skydiver, firmly attached to your instructor as you step out of the plane.

    So next time you are given a set of instructions, remember that they will help you get things right, just like Jesus’ followers.

Time for reflection

Allow me to see that there are instructions to help me.

Let us remember the instructions left by Jesus

and the fact that he is always with us, even though we cannot see him.



‘Lord of the dance’ (Come and Praise, 22)

Publication date: May 2010   (Vol.12 No.5)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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