Church of the Ascension

Church of the Ascension

Church of the Ascension

Chapel of the Ascension, Mount of Olives

Atop the Mount of Olives opposite Jerusalem in Israel are the Church of the Ascension and the Chapel of the Ascension, both claiming to be the spot from where Jesus ascended to heaven. The Chapel of the Ascension introduces itself in no fewer than seven languages (above).

Which is the true spot: Chapel of the Ascension or Church of the Ascension?

The Chapel of the Ascension is actually neither a chapel nor a church but a mosque run by Muslims. Atop this "chapel" is the Islamic crescent moon (below).

Church of the Ascension

Do Muslims even believe in Jesus' ascension?

They blaspheme that Jesus is neither God nor died nor rose from the dead, but that He ascended to heaven directly from Golgotha, which is on the other side of Kidron Valley (see Why Was Jesus Crucified?).

Then why is their Chapel of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives?

Church of the AscensionThe Bible says that after rising from the dead (see Jesus' Tomb), Jesus ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives,* so that's where Christians go.

So a myth was made up about finding on the Mount of Olives two footprints, which they said were made when Jesus pressed into the earth before leaping into the air. A building was built over it and burly Muslim men (including the one wearing sunglasses in the photo), who concede that they are Muslim only when directly questioned, charge an entrance fee to unsuspecting Christians under a sign that labels their mosque, "CHAPEL OF THE ASCENSION" (right).

What about the "Church of the Ascension"?

Church of the AscensionThe "Church" of the Ascension is a Russian Orthodox convent (left) with a 210 feet (60 meters) tall bell tower located about 200 yards north of the above "Chapel" of the Ascension. The Church of the Ascension was built in the 19th century at what the Russian Orthodox Church surmised is the spot from which Jesus ascended to heaven. "Our tradition" is offered as the evidence for this belated claim.

What does the Bible say about the spot from which Jesus ascended to heaven?

The Bible simply says that it was on the "mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey."* Be advised that "a Sabbath day’s journey" isn't the distance to be covered by walking for a day; it is a specific distance of 2,000 cubits, equal to 3,000 feet or 1,000 yards. So the location of Jesus' ascension could be anywhere on the Mount of Olives, which is a mountain ridge that runs about 1,000 yards east of Jerusalem.

* Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. (Acts 1:6-12)

Church of Ascension