Thursday, January 24

The Ascension

After He had said this, He was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took Him out of their sight. 10 While He was going, they were gazing into heaven, and suddenly two men in white clothes stood by them. 11 They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going into heaven." 12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem-- a Sabbath day's journey away. 13 When they arrived, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. 14 All these were continually united in prayer, along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.    (Act 1:9-14)

Jesus didn’t go to the moon. The disciples did not think He ascended up through the clouds to somewhere among the stars. Rather, Luke describes Jesus’ ascension as a disappearing into a cloud. This cloud is not meteorological coincidence. Throughout Hebrew Scripture, the presence of Yahweh, the God of Israel, is associated with a cloud: a cloud guides the Israelites by day from Egypt; a thick cloud settles on top of Sinai, the Tabernacle, and finally the Temple; Isaiah’s and Ezekiel’s visions are filled with the cloud of Yahweh’s presence.

As Luke describes Jesus’ physical, earthly body entering God’s space, he is making a revolutionary claim: Jesus is where heaven and earth meet. The last time this happened was in the Garden, when God’s space and human space were in the same location. After sin, though, the two had to be carefully distinguished. Purity laws, Tabernacle blueprints, and a sacrificial system were strictly maintained in order to create a small space for a brief period where God and humans could dwell together. The story arc of the entire Bible follows this main problem—how can God dwell among humans?

The answer is Jesus. 

As the disciples witnessed His glorious disappearance, straining their eyes as long as possible, two angels reminded them that this was not the end. Jesus would come back, and bring the presence of God to earth for eternity. 

Until that glorious appearance, the solution to the problem is Christ’s bride, the Church. The book of Acts records how an unlikely group of rag-tag apostles, women, and Jesus’ brothers grows not just into the greatest religious movement in history, but how—by the presence of the Spirit and power of prayer—become the place where God is present with His people.


Reflection

How does Jesus change the way we can approach God? As His Church, how can we—both individually and corporately—mediate the presence of God to others?

Prayer

Father, thank you that you made a way for us to live in your presence without laws, temples, or sacrifices. May I never take for granted the privilege and joy of your constant presence. Help me to mediate Your presence to others, until You come again and dwell physically among us forever.


Pick Four More Activities

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  • Listen and Worship.

  • Pray a Psalm.

  • Read a Book.

  • Retell the Gospel to Yourself.

  • Take Some Notes on Today's Devotional.

  • Pray for Yourself, Your Family, Your Church, and the Lost.

  • Memorize a Verse.

  • List Five Things You're Thankful For.

  • Encourage Someb

Megan NessonComment