Have you ever felt like God is distant from you? No where to be found? Jesus’ disciples felt like that one day because he actually left them.
As we continue studying Acts 1, we have arrived at the momentous event described in verses 9-11. I encourage you to open a Bible and read what happens. Maybe you already guessed by looking at the picture above.
Jesus ascends to his father, which is what he said he would do. What must that have looked like? It’s mind-blowing. Was he flying? I wonder how the disciples felt about this. Why did Jesus leave?
Jesus had prepared them that this day was coming. In fact he said it was good. In John 16:7, back at the Last Supper, he said, “I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
If I am the disciples, I am not thinking this is good. Jesus gone? No way. I want him to stay. As I mentioned when we studied the Holy Spirit a few weeks ago, I struggle with this still. It seems to me that it would be better to have Jesus still here!
But the disciples, if they were sad or disappointed, and I imagine it would have only been natural to feel those emotions, they were able to make a turn toward accepting Jesus’ intentions for them. How do we know this?
We know this because Luke tells us. Turn to Luke 24:50, which is the conclusion of Luke’s Book 1. There he mentions Jesus’ ascension as well, though briefly. What’s more, Luke includes the reaction of the disciples as they leave the Mount of Olives after Jesus is gone, and the disciples, Luke says, are not showing any signs of sadness. What are they showing?
They worship! In Acts we learn some additional info, that angels were there explaining what was happening, and declaring that one day Jesus would return. I am glad that the Gospel of Luke also mentions that they worshiped. It tells me they are starting to understand who Jesus was and what his Kingdom was all about. Rather than disappointment and despair, they are correct in their response. The Ascension of Jesus is cause for worship. Jesus had completed his part of the mission through his life, death and resurrection. Now he was turning that mission over to his followers, just as God intended all along.
This is helpful for us when we think God seems distant or quiet.
Consider the three words we’ve seen thus far: wait, witness, worship. When God seems far away, wait for his Spirit’s power, witness (tell the story) of his work in your life, and worship him. But the question is how? I think the waiting part is the most confusing. We get the idea of telling the story, the witnessing. And we get the idea of worshiping God. Not that those two are easy or that we do them perfectly, but at least we can understand them conceptually. But waiting? What will we do as we wait? And for how long?
As we’ll see in the next post, the disciples show us how!