The above verse relates the ascension of Christ into heaven, an event which was ten days before the first Pentecost after the resurrection, and thus some forty days after the events related in the first part of Luke chapter 24.
The indication in Acts 1:9-12 is that the ascension occurred on Mount Olivet; but it is wrong to make a contradiction out of the fact that “they were over against Bethany,” as here.
This does not at all say that he ascended “from” Bethany, but from a point (on the Mount of Olives) which was over against Bethany, that village being located, of course, on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives.
The “two locations” are one.
Besides that, the words “and was carried up into heaven” may have the same meaning as the passage in Acts 1:9, that is, that Jesus was taken up beyond their vision.
It is just possible that Luke 24:51 does not describe the ascension.
Human eyes were not permitted to see the event of the resurrection itself … The angels as the constant witnesses of God’s action saw it … By their testimony the resurrection was made known to men.
In Acts 1:9-12 a cloud obscured the actual “going up” of Jesus; and, as the holy angels announced the ascension in connection with that disappearance, their word identifies that event as the ascension.
If we identify this occasion with that, as being one and the same, which is the view most reasonable to this writer, then it may be assumed that the sacred author in this passage merely left off mentioning the cloud.
“Carried up into heaven” would then be understood as an event certified by angelic testimony but not actually witnessed by men.
In the year 177 A.D., Irenaeus quoted this verse and another from the beginning of this gospel, thus proving that this passage was received as a part of God’s word at that early date, long before the Sinaiticus or Vaticanus manuscripts were written, and indicating the rightful place of this portion of Mark in the sacred canon, independently of these manuscripts.
Here Mark did not state exactly where the ascension occurred; and the alleged contradictions regarding this event as having occurred in Galilee, or in Bethany, are of no weight at all.
There is every likelihood, if not certainty, that the actual ascension to God was unseen by human eyes, just as the resurrection was not actually seen; and there could have been more than one (there certainly were) instance of Jesus’ “going up” in the presence of his disciples, just as he disappeared in the interview with the disciples at Emmaus, or later with the eleven.
As to the matter of ascension.
Paul’s argument was not that any ascension proves a descent. If he meant such a thing as that, it would not have been true.
The ascension of Christians to be with the Lord in eternity does not prove that they also descended, etc.
Paul did not argue that “an ascension implies a descent”; any child would know better than that, and Paul was no intellectual child.
What then was his argument?
Now, when it is declared of Jesus Christ the Lord that he ascended, the inescapable and necessary deduction is imperative: that he also descended!
How otherwise could a member of the Godhead ascend?
How could the Holy One, with God in the beginning, “the same was God”; how could he have ascended without first descending?
This verse, therefore, far from being “pure midrash,” is one of the most eloquent passages in the New Testament touching upon the glorious Christian doctrine of the Ascension of Jesus Christ and of his pre-existence from all eternity with the Father.
These words counteract any thought that by his ascension to heaven Christ thereby, in any sense, deserted the earth.
The manner of Christ’s “filling” all things, of course, is not in a physical sense.
It is his all-pervading power and sovereign authority; it is his omniscience and universal presence in all places simultaneously – these are the qualities of our Lord in view here.
A few of the scriptures showing how Jesus Christ sits at the right hand of God, in Heaven.
Our flesh, in the person of Jesus, is upon the throne of God, henceforth called the “THRONE OF GOD AND OF THE LAMB.”