Today on Thursday, May 18, forty days after Easter, we remember and celebrate the Ascension of Jesus into heaven. You can find the story in Acts 1:6-11.
We typically think of Jesus’ Ascension as this glory-filled moment of Christ’s ultimate resurrected divinity. Our hymns declare, “All hail the power of Jesus’ name,” and “All glory, laud, and honor to you, Redeemer, King,” and “His kingdom cannot fail, he rules over earth and heaven.”
The Ascension of Jesus is one of those moments where we are invited to stand in awe of Jesus’ power and glory as the great high priest and redeeming Son of God “whose name is above all names” and “whose praise shall never fail throughout eternity.”
But before we get too wrapped up in the glory and celebration, it’s important to remember that the Ascension is also a story of change. In some ways, it is even a story of loss.
Less than six weeks before the Ascension, the disciples looked on as their beloved teacher and friend died on a cross. They laid him in a tomb and grieved, unsure of what came next. But then, much to their surprise, he was raised from the dead. And for forty days they had him back, in resurrected form. They walked together. They talked together. They probably laughed together. Maybe they even cried together.
But then, suddenly, Jesus took them outside of the city and he rose up into the clouds and was gone again. And the disciples were left on the ground.
It’s no wonder that they stared up into the clouds, wondering where Jesus went and when he was going to return.
They must have had so many questions. What now? What are we supposed to do? Is he coming back? When is he coming back?
The Ascension changes everything. Something new begins that day, and the truth is, the disciples don’t yet understand it. And it will take time for them to figure it out. They must return to Jerusalem and wait for the gift Jesus had promised them.
But one thing remains true, the story isn’t over yet. God isn’t finished yet.