“See that Momma?” a little voice by my side questioned.
His face tilted up toward the sky. His eyes squinted against the brightness. I followed the line from where his finger pointed to see a grouping of magnificent clouds with a golden center. Light streamed through in breathtaking rays.
“That’s how it’s gonna look when Jesus comes again,” he said.
My momma heart skipped a beat. It was a thought I’d often had when God’s glory seemed to split the clouds and pour light like liquid gold through them. But to hear it from my child, brought tears to my eyes.
I turned toward him. His blue eyes glowed with sure confidence. A grin curved his lips and child like faith moved him back to life at hand, and the ball at his feet.
“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.” Acts 1:9 NKJV
After Jesus rose from the dead, He walked on our soil again for 40 days. Easter Sunday seems long ago, but wait a moment, 40 days aren’t finished yet. He continued doing “wonders,” taught about the Kingdom, and hundreds of people testified to having seen Him.
But, even yet, His disciples imagined a political upheaval, a restoration of their land, a victorious put down of Rome.
“Lord, now are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” they wondered.
The close knit disciples had agonized at his crucifixion, feared for their own lives, and mourned at His tomb. Now, during 40 exhilarating days, they walked, talked and ate together with their Master again. He did miracles, showed His resurrection with indisputable proofs, and promised greater power to come for His followers. Even many of the naysayers admitted the resurrection wasn’t a myth. Jesus lived.
May 18, 2023 is Ascension Day. It’s not even noted on my calendar, but it celebrates a major event in the life of Jesus and His “men of Galilee.”
“And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.’”Acts 1:9-11 NKJV
Can you picture this group of men from Galilee clustered below with their faces looking up, searching into the sky. Can you see how their hands shielded their eyes, longing for a last glimpse? Can you feel the amazement and worship pouring forth? And, can you feel yet another good-bye as they watched Him disappear?
However, this parting was vastly different from the violent separation at the crucifixion. While they looked steadfastly, in the Greek, “atenizo” to fix eyes on, gaze upon, Jesus left them behind, but with promise.
“This same Jesus…” ascended to the Father, in glory, victory, and even joy. Luke 24:51-53 tells us when they returned to Jerusalem, as Jesus told them to do, they praised and worshipped continually with great joy.
I can’t begin to understand the full implications of the incarnation, but this same Jesus, born to Mary, who grew through childhood and became a Man, the One who suffered, bled and died, then bodily resurrected from the dead, this same Jesus will come again in the clouds.
Those slightly bewildered men from Galilee turned to see two angels in white apparel standing there.
“…why do you stand gazing up into heaven?” the angels asked.
“This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
I’ve done distance. I’ve done goodbyes. I’ve connected by phone, email, and screen. But it is just never quite the same as face to face, is it? The ascension is a glorious promise which says, someday, we will see Him like they did when they walked on the road together, fished in the boat, or sat on the hillside. We will hear Him, touch Him, know Him fully.
Jesus’ bodily resurrection and ascension confirm His divinity and also His humanity.
Jesus’ ascension, often overlooked, is another magnificent piece of His resurrection. It affirms this same Jesus in His eternal glorious body will come back in the same way He left. It proves final victory over Satan, sin and death. Jesus’ bodily resurrection and ascension confirm His divinity and also His humanity Click To Tweet
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 ESV
Sometimes we lower our eyes with discouragement because life is tough. Things happen. Grief grips our hearts. The ascension brings encouragement. Jesus in His eternal glorious body will come back in the same way He left Click To Tweet
It reminds us to lift up our eyes and gaze steadfastly, like a wondering child waiting with anticipation. For a day is coming when good-byes will be overshadowed with joy, and what can’t yet be seen will be reality. The clouds will part in glory. It will be magnificent.