The Ascension of our Lord
Today is the Ascension of our Lord. This day marks 40 days since Easter, and is the day that Jesus Ascended into heaven, a major point of Christian belief confessed each week in the Creed. On this day Jesus instructed his disciples to stay in Jerusalem until the promised Holy Spirit came. This event occurred just ten days later on Pentecost.
If you could ask Jesus only one question, what would it be? Or perhaps I should say, if you could ask him only one last question what would it be?
I don’t know if the disciples realized this was their last chance to ask a question before Jesus was taken up into heaven but this was the question they asked:
“Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Not the most insightful question really and showed that the disciples still did not fully understand why Jesus came and what he had done. Basically they asked, “Do things go back to normal now, will Israel be the great and unified nation once again that it was in the days of David and Solomon?”
But what is normal? Who gets to decide that? What does it mean to restore Israel? The disciples had asked a simple yes or no question, but as usual Jesus did not give a yes or no answer:
"It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority."
We too have entered a season of frustration and wonder when normalcy will be restored. But who gets to define what is normal? And why should we know when something like a plague or a famine or a war should come or go? Imagine if we had known all through 2019 that 2020 would be defined by a worldwide pandemic and economic turmoil. Likely we would have spent all of last year brooding in worry or panicking, or simply fretting about what may come.
No one knew last year what this year would bring and no one knows when normalcy will be fully restored. But then again it’s not for us to know the times or seasons. Instead we are to wait on the Holy Spirit and allow him to comfort, to remind, to keep us in Christ. And as we are able to endure even times like these where we do not know the precise way forward we will serve as witnesses to a world full of doubt. We ought to reflect the mercy and grace of Christ at this time, walking in patience and speaking often of the hope that we have. Jesus ascended, soon gone in the mist and clouds but the Holy Spirit has remained to guide the church, we are not orphans!
God never promised to answer every question we have, but he has promised to see us through everything by the gift of the Holy Spirit.