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The Ascension: Looking Up And Going Out

Author: Joe White, Metanoia Project

Picture: Pikrepo

The Ascension: Looking Up And Going Out

The Ascension teaches us to call out for Jesus, be filled with His power and build God's Kingdom, says Joe White of the Metanoia Project.

Right from the beginning of the Old Testament, God has promised that He would be our God and we would be His people, that God would be with us.

In the annunciation, Mary is promised that she will be with child from on high and He will be called Emmanuel: God is with us. God loved us so much He became one of us and walked with His disciples upon the earth. He promised to never leave us orphaned, but physically He leaves the earth at the Ascension.

Why does He leave? The reason is that He can be with every person in everyplace through His Spirit. We eagerly await Pentecost.

Why Are You Looking Up?

Where does Jesus go at the Ascension? In the first reading from Acts of the Apostles, angels appear and ask the disciples why they are looking up into the sky. We know Jesus has gone to heaven-but where and what is heaven?

In the story of Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28) heaven is up there and we are down here. There is some interplay, but not much. During the ‘Enlightenment’, philosophers decided we are doing well for ourselves, so have no immediate need for God. Therefore, we come to the idea that God creates and then just leaves us to it.

Atheists argue that we cannot cope with our own mortality, so through our own pride we have created religion and life after death. Heaven, they claim, is simply an emotional construct. All of this leads us to a very unbiblical image of heaven.

Heaven is God’s realm; it is where God is. It is where we are always in His presence. Heaven is intertwined with our ‘world’, our realm. Heaven is the reality and, whenever we welcome Jesus into our lives, we experience something of heaven.

Jesus makes this clear right at the start of His ministry by declaring that ‘the kingdom of heaven is close at hand’ (Mark 1:15). He then tells us to ‘Metanoia’ – open your eyes, see things differently, allow your whole being to be changed so that you can see this reality.

What Does This Mean For Me And My life Today?

Our faith is not about what is going to happen when we die. Often our Christian faith can be centred on the afterlife, rather than the here and now.

In the middle of the ‘Our Father’, we pray these words: ‘Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ The end purpose is that heaven and earth will become one and the apostles (and us) are asked to work towards that now.

We are commissioned to go out. If we really want Jesus to be our Lord (rather than Satan) then we need to do what He asks us to do. In this passage we are told to go out to help build the kingdom and make Jesus known. It is not an optional extra for some people, but the work of the whole people of God. How are you doing this?

Are you feeling a bit daunted by that command to go out? Don’t worry-so were the disciples and they did not do it straight away. They knew they needed help and so waited until Jesus sent help. 

We cannot follow these instructions without the Holy Spirit. In this passage from Matthew's Gospel, we read that some hesitated / doubted, but this doubt and fear gave way to faith and courage at Pentecost. We need to call out for Him and be filled with His power from on high.

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