When was the first time Jesus ascended to the Father post-Resurrection? The Jews believed that the spirit stayed with the body for 3 days and ascended on the 4th day - did Jesus ascend on the day after He rose?
ESV - 17 Jesus said to her, "Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'
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While many think of "The Ascension" (Acts 1:11, possibly Luke 4:51) when they picture Jesus first ascending to the father, there are a number of clues in scripture that show He would have first ascended the day of the Resurrection. To understand the what and why, it's important to understand one particular Old Testament offering: the "wave" offering. Many things could be "waved" before the Lord (money, sacrifices, goods) and for many times/reasons, but in this case it is the grain offering which we need to look at. Two instances in particular - the grain wave offering as "first-fruits" of the harvest, and the grain wave-offering the Sunday after Passover: "“Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the Lord so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. On the day you wave the sheaf, you must sacrifice as a burnt offering to the Lord a lamb a year old without defect, " Lev 23:10-12 "From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, you are to count seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the Lord. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the Lord." Lev 23:15-17 We see a couple ways Jesus fulfilled these. First, He was the "first-fruit" and "firstborn" among the dead and of many children of God to come (Rom 8:28, Col 1:18, I Cor 15:23) Second, what happened seven full weeks after Sunday? Pentecost (Acts 2)! Thousands of new souls were added to the church, firstfruits before God of the harvest to come (though not *the* firstfruit, Christ.) They were even 'baked' (tongues of fire) with leaven (the gospel) if you want to dive into some more nuanced parallels. So, Jesus as the firstfruit offering of the church, waved before God, is one reason to believe he ascended on Sunday following the Resurrection. The second reason is a bit more complex. Jesus tells Mary "Do not touch Me/cling to me, for not yet have I ascended to the Father. Now go to My brothers and tell them, "I am ascending"..." in Jn 20:27 "I am ascending" is present active here, showing that this is something Jesus is planning to do by the time she gets to the disciples, or even starting to do, not a future event. And shortly after, other women (and perhaps even Mary once more) meet up with Jesus. This time, He allows them to lay hold of/clasp His feet without rebuke. He gives them another message for the disciples - not to say "I am ascending" but that they will see Him in Galilee. (Matt 28:9) Shortly after, He also asks Thomas to put a hand to His side and scars (Jn 20:27.) Taken together, these seem to show a timeline where Jesus first ascended after meeting Mary but before the other women met with Him. A third reason to believe this first ascension was soon after the Resurrection comes from Eph 1:19-21: "These are in accordance with the working of His mighty strength, which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.…" While not a "proof," it would be strange if God waited for some time to actually seat Jesus at His right hand. Jesus won victory at the cross. In the verse the two thoughts (raised from the dead/seated) are linked. And when we see the later ascension mentioned in Mk 16:19, it isn't in the sense of Christ being seated for the first time, but in the sense of Jesus sitting down in a throne that is already His.
I would say that the Bible indicates that Christ ascended to heaven only one time after His resurrection, which occurred forty days after the resurrection. Some have apparently interpreted the fact that Jesus seemingly told Mary (as translated in the King James Version) not to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father, but then later openly invited the apostles to touch Him to assure themselves that He was not merely a spirit, as an indication that Jesus must have ascended to the Father between those events, before the ascension that was recorded as occurring forty days after His resurrection. However, as I understand it, the Greek word used in the account of Jesus appearing to Mary after His resurrection indicates that Jesus was telling her (as indicated in the ESV translation of His words as cited in the question) not to cling to Him (that is, not to let her actions be motivated by a desire for Him to remain on earth indefinitely in His resurrected body), rather than referring merely to the act of touching Him. Also, if Jesus ascended to heaven and returned to earth multiple times after His resurrection, and this would have somehow been known or deducible to those alive at that time (either by eyewitness or by having been foretold in prophecy), why is there no explicit mention of it in canonical Scripture? Why would Jesus have spoken of His return to earth at the close of the age as a unique event? Why would the two angels who appeared after the ascension recorded in Acts 1 have spoken of His ascension as though it were a one-time event? What would have prevented multiple subsequent similar visible returns to earth by Christ, for which there is no evidence or support?.
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