After his suffering,
he showed himself to these men
and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.
He appeared to them over a period of forty days
and spoke about the kingdom of God.
Today is Ascension Thursday, a day celebrated by Christians all over the world. Why all the fuss?
Here’s why . . .
After his resurrection, Jesus spent the next forty days convincing the disciples that he was alive and telling ‘em about God’s kingdom. Here were his last recorded words on this planet:
You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you;
and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem,
and in all Judea and Samaria,
and to the ends of the earth.
Here’s what happened next:
After he said this,
he was taken up before their very eyes,
and a cloud hid him from their sight.
The disciples did what you and I would probably have done. They stood there gawking up at the sky. Here’s what the Bible says:
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going,
when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.
“Men of Galilee,” they said,
“why do you stand here looking into the sky?
This same Jesus,
who has been taken from you into heaven,
will come back in the same way
you have seen him go into heaven.”
Jesus concluded his earthly ministry by departing in a cloud of glory to be with our Heavenly Father. But he didn’t leave the disciples — or us — alone. As he promised in his final words, the Holy Spirit is now available 24/7/365 to empower us to continue his work here on earth until the day he returns.
Want to get deeper? Here’s one of my all-time favorite Bible passages that helps explain what this all means (and what we should do about it):
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ,
set your hearts on things above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things above,
not on earthly things.
For you died,
and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ, who is your life, appears,
then you also will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, therefore,
whatever belongs to your earthly nature:
sexual immorality, impurity, lust,
evil desires and greed,
which is idolatry.
Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.
You used to walk in these ways,
in the life you once lived.
But now you must also rid yourselves
of all such things as these:
anger, rage, malice, slander,
and filthy language from your lips.
Do not lie to each other,
since you have taken off your old self with its practices
and have put on the new self,
which is being renewed in knowledge
in the image of its Creator.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people,
holy and dearly loved,
clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness,
humility, gentleness and patience.
Bear with each other and forgive one another
if any of you has a grievance against someone.
Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
And over all these virtues put on love,
which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
since as members of one body you were called to peace.
And be thankful.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly
as you teach and admonish one another
with all wisdom through psalms, hymns,
and songs from the Spirit,
singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
And whatever you do,
whether in word or deed,
do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:1-10, 12-17)