“He was taken up before their very eyes,
and a cloud hid him from their sight”
The Ascension of Christ, celebrated by the Church today, is the wonderful fulfilment of God’s promise that,
“so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11)
Jesus as the Living Word had now returned to the Father who had spoken, or sent, Him on this mission. It had been accomplished.
The fact that His ascension took place in this way and in front of His disciples is significant. He wanted them to realise and accept that this time He was leaving permanently. He would not suddenly visit them again in another resurrection appearance. This was the testimony also of the angel who spoke to them – confirming that the Lord would not return again until the end.
“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 1:11)
There is also a hint of a rebuke in his words as if to say that they should not be gazing hopefully into the sky but preparing themselves for the work that the Lord had committed to them. They needed to lower their eyes and begin to focus on living as His people in a needy world. As do we all.
But although the Lord has gone from us in this visible and recognisable form He has not left us alone. He is still with us in the Holy Spirit whose comiing we will celebrate at Pentecost is just a few days time. And very truly in ways we cannot understand but know full well with Tennyson,
“Closer is He than breathing, and nearer than hands and feet”
Where can I make a difference with Him–and be a blessing – today?
Lord God help me to walk in Your footsteps, to notice the needs that You bring to my attention and to reach out and bless in Your name – and to remember always that You will come back again. Amen.