Today is our 40th day counting the omer.
In some places, today is called Ascension Day because 40 days after Jesus rose from the grave, He ascended from earth to heaven where He “sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand” (Mark 16:19 NLT). Jesus had been with His disciples teaching them about the Kingdom of God. Paul told the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15:6 that Jesus was seen by more than 500 at one time after His resurrection, “the majority of whom are still alive, though some have died.”
What a day that must have been for the disciples! They had been following Him through all the days of ministry and had been so elated when they discovered that He really had risen from the dead. To have Him there with them for another 40 days must have been the icing on top of the cake! But now they have come unknowingly to the day that He would leave them, never to be physically seen again in their lives. Jesus took them over to Bethany, just a bit less than 2 miles from Jerusalem. There He finished reinforcing the most important things about the Kingdom of heaven. Suddenly, His feet started lifting off the ground! Maybe it was slow at first, but He just kept going up and up.
I do not know how long they stood and watched Him ascend. Evidently it was long enough for two angels to come and stand among them. They were probably still looking up when the two angels began talking to them. “You Galileans! Why are you standing, staring into space? This Yeshua, who has been taken away from you into heaven, will come back to you in just the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11 CJB) I do not know what the disciples were thinking as they walked back to Jerusalem. Perhaps they were mulling over all the events in their minds. At some point, they remembered what the angels had said, “This Yeshua, who has been taken away from you into heaven, will come back to you in just the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.” They had so much work to do to proclaim to all the world that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, but the promise was forever in their minds – He’s coming back just like He left.
We most certainly would have been right with them staring up into the sky and outer space. Our thoughts and emotions would have probably been a very mixed bag. But as we stand here, almost 2000 years after He ascended, may we never forget that He will return in the same way that He departed. May we be so convinced that He will soon return that we will work harder than ever before to expand His Kingdom using all means possible! And, may God help us not to be caught flat-footed when He returns.
May 21, 2020