Thursday 14 May 2015

Bible Book:

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven?” (v. 11)

Acts 1:6-11 Thursday 14 May 2015

Psalm: Psalm 24


Today is Ascension Day. The Gospel of Luke's account of theResurrection and Ascension is very compressed (Luke20:50-52) - everything appears to take place on a single day.He goes on to tell the story of the Ascension again at thebeginning of Acts, his second book, this time expanding hisaccount. It's also worth noting that the Ascension only appears inLuke's Gospel, apart from the less reliable ending of Mark's Gospel(Mark 16:19).

Verse 11 encourages us to engage with the question of theascension, "Why do you stand looking up towards heaven?". TheAscension was the completion of Jesus' life and work, but it is notthe end of the Christian story. This ending is also a new beginningand the angels are asking us the same question - Jesus is no longerphysically with you, so what are you doing now?

For the disciples the Ascension offered an opportunity to quizJesus for the last time on the meaning of his mission, they arestill focused on traditional Messianic expectations of liberationfrom the occupying Roman power. But Jesus, as so often, tells themthat they are on the wrong track - "It is not for you to know thetimes or periods..." (v. 7). Instead he offers them somethingbetter, without telling them that this is linked to his departure,"you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you" (v.8). The saying goes, 'with power comes responsibility', so heconfirms what their responsibility is - "and you will be mywitnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judaea and Samaria, and to the endsof the earth" (v. 8).

The story of the Ascension should be a call to us to get outinto the world, be witnesses to the risen and ascended Christ andmake disciples. These are all good Methodist themes and fit wellwith John Wesley's famous saying "I look on all the world as myparish".

To Ponder

  • What does the Ascension mean to you?
  • Are there times when we are standing around looking up toheaven, perhaps looking for liberation rather than concentrating onbeing witnesses?
  • What would you have asked Jesus just before he ascended?
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