"Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven" (Luke 24:51). According to Mark's account, "after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19). Jesus is now reigning over His kingdom (the church) from heaven (cf. Acts 2:33; I Cor. 15:24-28).
"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 [angels, presumably], 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" (Acts 1:9-11).
How did Jesus' followers respond to this awesome sight? "And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" (Luke 24:52). They were thrilled about the manner of the Lord's departure and the thought of His eventual return. Certainly they were also excited about their future as servants of the Lord Jesus Christ! Our hearts should also be filled with joy at the thought of seeing Jesus return. Although no one living on Earth today witnessed His ascension, all who have ever lived will witness His glorious return (cf. Rev. 1:7)!
The disciples "were continually in the temple praising and blessing God" (Luke 24:53). They did this for ten days while waiting in Jerusalem. We know this since Jesus' prior appearances after His resurrection were spread over a forty day period (cf. Acts 1:3), and it was a total of fifty days from the Passover Sabbath to Pentecost (which was when they would be baptized with the Holy Spirit; cf. Acts 2).
The book of Mark closes with this statement - "And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen." (Mark 16:20). Mark here briefly summarizes the activities of the apostles after Pentecost, as recorded in more detail in the book of Acts.
There are some who doubt the inspiration of Mark 16:9-20 because this section is not found in two ancient manuscripts. However, an overwhelming case can be made for the genuineness of these verses. There are over 1400 manuscripts that do contain these verses! There is a variety of explanations as to why these verses may be missing in a couple manuscripts (all of them center on human error or carelessness). For our purposes it is sufficient to note that even if the verses were not inspired (which I do not believe to be the case), there is no truth revealed therein that is not taught elsewhere in the New Testament.
This concludes our study of the inspired accounts of the gospel (i.e., Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John). In the near future, Lord willing, we will launch into a detailed study of the book of Acts, which continues the historical narrative of Jesus' followers.