The Ascension in the Gospel of John

The matter of the Ascension is an important, but it is mentioned directly in one Gospel, Luke, although if you accept the Traditional version of Mark, we find two Gospels with the Ascension. What is most startling is that John, the most divine of the Gospels leaves us with the discussion between Christ, Peter and John concerning whether or not John would remain alive until the Second Coming.

Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?” Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.” Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen. (John 21:20-25 NKJV)

It is from John that we have the most direct language concerning the deity of Jesus Christ, from which all sides demand a seat at the table in interpretation, but in the end, John’ Gospel leaves us with Christ on earth.

It seems to be a matter of faith for some people to have every Gospel in lockstep with each other, but John threw a wrench into the works, so to speak, but putting some things in a different order – not in contradiction to the other gospels – due to his writing style. Unlike Luke, John has peppered, or more to the point thoroughly seasoned his gospel with the Ascension of Christ.

We have several references, such as John 6.62, 7.3305, 8.21, 13.1, and 20.17. We have no account of Christ ascending to the Father in John, althought we have plenty of references. Further, the conversation between Christ and Peter about John references the fact that Christ at some point was leaving, or else His language of ’till I come’ would be pointless. Although John, unlike Luke and the longer version of Mark, has no clear cut ascension story, the signs of the departure of Christ is evident.

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2 Replies to “The Ascension in the Gospel of John”

  1. My readings of all the gospels have the disciples in very different places at the end. Luke, Acts and Mark (the longer version) describe the events as being somewhere near the Mt of Olives, near Bethany and the event up to 40 days after the resurrection. This is the teaching that our tradition is based on. The gospels of Matthew and John both have the disciples in Galilee after the resurrection. Matt 28:16 says “.. the eleven.. went away into Galilee, unto a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.” There is given the Great Commission, but not the ascension. The whole of John 21 takes place by the sea of Tiberius (Galilee) but again does not specifically describe either the ascension or the Great Commission. Nevertheless, both gospels are clear that the disciples had gone to Galilee.

    Since Matthew and John were disciples and presumably witnesses, whereas Luke and Mark wrote the testimony of others, Mark through Peter and Luke as he “..carefully investigated everything from the beginning..”, we should give more credence to the accuracy of the first two. This raises more questions. Luke 1:4 has Jesus commanding the disciples not to leave Jerusalem and their undoubted presence there on the day of Pentecost.

    Though the distance is not large (around 100km) it is still 2 or 3 days journey. My dilemma is that, in presenting Jesus and the Bible to skeptics, these inconsistencies make it difficult to justify much of what else is written in the Gospels. Can you help me with this. (email reply would be much appreciated)

  2. This is just an idea…. since there is 40 days between the resurrection and ascension, the disciples could have been in Galilee and later travelled to Jerusalem for the ascension?

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