“But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth.””
Today is Ascension Thursday, the day that according to tradition Jesus rose into heaven after spending 40 days with his disciples after he Resurrected from the dead. One of the most often asked questions in my time is not about Christ’s death and Resurrection at all, its the Ascension. Why did Jesus leave? Why couldn’t he stay? We will explore these questions in more detail this Sunday at our Drive in Service. Yet for today, two notes are worth making. First, questions like the above are healthy for any Christian to make. My Dad, a lifelong minister in the Methodist Church, and others in my circle have always encouraged me to ask questions of any kind of material I am dealing with. In a word, questions sometimes make better answers! Would I be the same person I am today if Jesus didn’t Ascend to Heaven? Corona restrictions and all, I’m not sure the Lord is willing for us to miss out on becoming the people of God we are meant to be just for our comfort. Second, God’s power became more evident after Jesus ascended, not before! Paul’s conversion in Acts 9
would not have happened if Jesus had remained in his post Resurrection physical form. When America landed on the moon, Buzz Aldrin took communion and read the great verse “You can do nothing without me.”- John 15:5. I challenge you this week to ponder how different would your life be if Jesus had stayed on earth? The reformer Johnathan Edwards wrote one his diary that because of the Acension of Jesus: “I have felt an ardency of soul to be what I know not otherwise to express, emptied and annihilated; to lie in the dust and be full of Christ alone, to love him with a holy and pure love; to trust in him, to live upon him, to serve and follow him, and to be perfectly sanctified and made pure.”
‘God blessed the broken road’ the old song says. The facts are the Christian is here because God has willed it so. What else can we do but serve a God who has filled our hearts with the love that Edwards describes? “Better to reign in Hell than serve in heaven” the Devil taunts in Milton's epic. Many levels of secular society would unfortunately agree with such a line. The ascension of Jesus means that Christ will do all that we are not capable of doing. The question is, will we take the keys he has given the church and drive with him leading the way? Or remain in park, blaming God for what we don’t have, instead of embracing the power that Paul says we do have (Romans 5:5)?