Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ascension Day: When Christians Should be Looking Up!

Today is Ascension Day, forty days after Resurrection Day (Easter). The Bible tells us that it was after forty days on earth, during which time Jesus appeared publicly twice in the upper room to his disciples (John 20:19-29), once in Galilee to a large crowd of followers (Matthew 28:16-20), picnicked with some of the eleven after a night of fishing on the Sea of Galilee (John 21:4-14), and met with them again in Jerusalem (Acts 1:6). Luke makes it plain that during these days he offered "many proofs" that he was, in fact, the same Jesus who was alive again (Acts 1:3). He also told them that great power was coming for them from heaven, but that they must wait in Jerusalem now for it to come.

After all of this, according to the book of Acts (1:6-11), he led them for their final "study session" (where he laid out once again the plan for worldwide witness once their power had come to them), to the same hillside east of Jerusalem where he had, weeks before, told them about the end of the age--the Mount of Olives. He repeated the plan (you remember what it is, don't you?) and as he finished, with the eleven watching, he began to rise bodily into the sky, a glorious, shining cloud of glory enveloping him as he rose so that they could no longer see him. He (and the cloud) were gone! But in the meantime, two angels stood next to them, and gently told them that staring was not their occupation. But hope was theirs--this same Jesus, will return in just the same way.

In his glorified body.
Visibly.
Carried back on the cloud of God's glory.
To the Mount of Olives, where he will stand on earth.

We've been studying a little bit (OK, a lot) about what the Bible says will precede this return, but never let us lose sight of what the signs point to.

Our Jesus is alive, and he is coming back.

Can it happen? Just as surely as he went up, he will come back down. Until then, don't lose hope, even though you can't see him yet.

Happy Ascension Day!