Ascension of the Lord
Acts 1:1-11 Ephesians 1:17-23 Luke 24:46-53
It has only been forty days since the disciples stood open-mouthed, gazing at the empty tomb. Since then Jesus Christ has been with them in his glorified body, teaching them and encouraging them to hold fast to the message of salvation. But now they are gathered, and it seems that the disciples are still thinking about things of this world: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” they ask (Acts 1:6). One can imagine Jesus silently shaking his head and saying, “Don’t these folks get it yet?” But Jesus is patient once again, knowing that soon the disciples will understand. And just as at the tomb, two men appear to the disciples and ask them, “What are you looking at? Jesus is returning to heaven, and you have work to do, so go do it!”
In the Gospel reading from Luke, the disciples are told to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit. What might this mean? Jesus has said that his message and his ministry were something new. He said that he was calling his followers to a new way of thinking, doing, and being. What does it mean that Jesus is in heaven with the Father, and yet with us always on earth? Soon the disciples would understand, as we understand, that it is through the work of the church, the fellowship of the baptized, that Christ walks among us every day, spreading the Good News of salvation. It is because of the power of the Christ in his church that we can pray with Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: “May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17).