The Feast of the Ascension of our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ is celebrated each year
on the fortieth day after the Great and Holy Feast of Pascha (Easter). Since the date of Pascha changes each year, the date
of the Feast of the Ascension changes. The Feast is always celebrated on a Thursday.
The Feast itself commemorates when, on the fortieth day after His Resurrection, Jesus led His disciples to
the Mount of Olives, and after blessing them and asking them to wait for the fulfillment of the promise of the Holy Spirit,
He ascended into heaven.
The story of the Ascension of our Lord, celebrated as one of the Twelve Great Feasts of the Church, is found
in the book of the Acts of the Apostles 1:3-11. It is also mentioned in the Gospels of Mark (16:19) and Luke (24:50-53). The
moment of the Ascension is told in one sentence: "He was lifted up before their eyes in a cloud which took Him from their
sight" (Acts 1:9).
Christ made His last appearance on earth, forty days after His Resurrection from the dead. The Acts of the
Apostles states that the disciples were in Jerusalem. Jesus appeared before them and commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem,
but to wait for the "Promise of the Father". He stated, "You shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now"
After Jesus gave these instructions, He led the disciples to the Mount of Olives. Here, He commissioned them
to be His witnesses "in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8). It is also at this
time that the disciples were directed by Christ to "go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the
Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19). Jesus also told them that He would be with them always, "even to
the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).
As the disciples watched, Jesus lifted up His hands, blessed them, and then was taken up out of their sight
(Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9). Two angels appeared to them and asked them why they were gazing into heaven. Then one of the angels
said, "This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him going into
heaven" (Acts 1:11).
Source: Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America