Reading: Luke 24:44-53
Verse 51: “While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.”
We step outside of the regular lectionary readings today as we turn to Luke 24. Today is known as “Ascension Day” – the day when the risen Christ returns to heaven to sit at the right hand of God. Ever the teacher, Jesus summarizes the overarching story of the Hebrew Bible one last time.
Jesus begins by unpacking all that was written about the Messiah in “the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” Jesus works his way through all of the Hebrew scriptures, revealing that he was the fulfillment of all of these prophetic writings. Jesus then summarizes with his suffering and resurrection – the means to give salvation to the world. He reiterates their task moving forward: to preach “repentance and forgiveness of sins” to the whole world. This continues to be the way to eternal life: we repent and God forgives. Humility and grace, worked out again and again by those involved in covenant relationship: us and God. What a gift.
Jesus returns to heaven in a most humble way: “While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.” While still offering himself in service to others, giving the disciples a blessing, Jesus simply rises up. The disciples must’ve sensed or known that this was it. But they are not sad. They are filled with great joy. Minds opened to all that had been written, filled with these truths, they worship God. Fully understanding who and what Jesus Christ was and is, they are ready for the last step. Their training and preparation complete, they are ready to receive the Holy Spirit. This final step will launch them into the mission that Jesus has given them. In 10 days it will come. Filled with the Spirit these disciples will change the world. Thanks be to God.
Prayer: Lord God, we stand in this long line of disciples who have come to know and then accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Doing so we’ve been filled with the Holy Spirit. Lead and guide us to be disciples who continue to change the world. Amen.