He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But 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.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
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.”
Acts 1:7-10And here you thought it was just a Sunday in June.
For many Christians, this is the day to celebrate the ascension of Christ, a commemoration of His completed mission on this earth following the crucifixion and resurrection and His departure from this planet.
It's one of those events in the life of Christ that becomes a dividing line between those who believe and call on His name and those who acknowledge His sojourn here but see Him only as an inspired teacher and philosopher.
Because inspired teachers and philosophers are not typically known for being taken from their followers right before those followers eyes and hidden in a cloud.
It's one of those events that makes it a bit messy to say that one likes this guy Jesus but doesn't see Him as the Son of God.
While it may seem plausible to brush off this event as the hysterics of His followers, it was an event that launched their public ministries. And their executions.
Because His disciples, the ones who witnessed Him return to the Father, would not recant what they had witnessed, would not relinquish in their account of this event. They knew Jesus as the loving rabbi who had taught and walked with them, who had been executed, who had returned to life. And who had ascended right before them.
Maybe you can make the argument that Jesus wasn't really dead when they laid Him in the tomb. Maybe you can make the argument that He recovered enough after three days to walk again amongst His friends. And maybe this argument makes you a bit more comfortable with acknowledging His earthly tenure without have to embrace anything supernatural or disconcerting.
But what do you do with an ascension? And what do you do with a group of people who would not recant what they had witnessed and died by the sword and the cross and the rope as a result? Who saw not profit or power as a result of their position? Who stood nothing to gain in this world but everything to gain in the next?
What do you do with this ascended Messiah?