Ascension of the Lord
Luke 24: 46 - 53
Jesus said to his disciples: “You see how it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that, in his name, repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses to this.
And now I am sending down to you what the Father has promised. Stay in the city then, until you are clothed with the power from on high.’ Then he took them out as far as the outskirts of Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. Now as he blessed them, he withdrew from them and was carried up to heaven. They worshipped him and then went back to Jerusalem full of joy; and they were continually in the Temple praising God.
The last act of Jesus as he was carried up into heaven was to bless the disciples. He was blessing them as he ascended. The blessing and the miracle of the ascension led the disciples to worship him, to praise God and to be filled with joy, even though Jesus had left them.
The ascension was a deeply spiritual time of blessing and joy, although touched with the grief of losing Jesus again. A few days later the disciples’ fear of the crowd led them to gather in an upper room, huddled together for reassurance and protection. Their discipleship continued to be a roller coaster ride.
It takes courage to follow Christ. It requires a willingness to open oneself to whatever may happen, and to make an act of faith in the presence of Jesus and his love for us. It is no road for a control freak or someone who seeks a non-challenging and unchanging life.
Trying to control everything can tie us in knots, and lead to an ever-present level of stress. When we let go of the things (and sometimes the people) we attempt to control, the energy tied up in stress and tension is released and available for more productive purposes. The release also brings both peace and joy, because each time we do this our trust in God deepens. We also grow in confidence and healthy self-esteem as we learn that we have the ability to handle, with God’s help, whatever happens.
If we want to experience the true freedom which comes from following Jesus then we must be willing to allow Jesus to transform control into trust and belief in his care for us.
The disciples had no choice but to let Jesus go in the ascension. But the letting go which the disciples experienced when Jesus was carried away was followed by joy, not sorrow.