yearB ascension

Sermon For This Week:

     Luke 24:44-53 & Acts 1:6-11  -  When God Disappears

Pastor Robert Allen tells the following story. He says, when my children were small, I used to play a lot of games with them. There were afternoons when I attended an imaginary tea party given by a little girl. There were times when we played "horsey" and one of the kids would crawl on my back and I would give them a ride all over the house. Sometimes they would sit quietly while I read them the fascinating stories of Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss or "David and Goliath" from the book of Bible stories.


However, their favorite game was "Hide and Seek." Since they were small, I would pick one up under each arm and sit them down in the den. Then, I would run back to the bedroom and hide.

They would come toddling down the hall -- cackling with laughter because they were playing a game. They would look in a couple of familiar hiding places and if I wasn't there, they would look at their mother and ask, "Where's daddy?"


Even though I was hidden just a few feet from them -- under the bed or in the closet -- they couldn't see me. I had disappeared, yet they knew I was still with them.


I suspect that this is something of how the disciples felt in that scripture passage in Acts. They were with Jesus and they were wondering if he would again restore the kingdom of Israel to its greatness. Jesus did not answer their question. He simply said, "You don't really need to know when and how everything is going to happen."


Then, he shifted the emphasis from the restoration of Israel to the transformation of their lives. He announced to them that the Holy Spirit would come upon them. He told them they would be given power to be his witnesses. He told them they would be witnesses in Jerusalem, Samaria and throughout the world.


When he had finished speaking these words, we come face to face with one of the most difficult passages in the Bible -- the ascension of Jesus. Luke tells the story in very simple language as we writes: "... after saying this, (Jesus) was taken up to heaven as they watched him, and a cloud hid him from their sight..." We are attracted to the unusual, are we not? And the story of the ascension is unusual. If we put ourselves in the place of the disciples, we would have an ancient concept of the universe. Remember everybody in those days belonged to the Flat Earth Society. They believed that the earth was flat. They believed that heaven was in the sky. They believed that hell or Hades was under their feet. And they believed that they needed Jesus with them and when they needed him most, he disappeared from their sight.


Can you imagine the effect of the ascension on the disciples? Luke says, "They still had their eyes fixed on the sky."


There must have been a myriad of thoughts and feelings racing through the minds of the disciples as Jesus disappeared from their sight. There must have been fear and anxiety as they suddenly realized that he had disappeared and left them on their own. But, these feelings only lasted for a little while.


Gradually, they realized that they were not alone. For some reason, they sensed that they were not alone. Jesus had dwelt among them, but now they believed that he dwelt within them. In some ways, Jesus was more real than he was before he disappeared. He was with them wherever they were, in the Jewish courtroom, on the dusty roads as they went out into the world to tell others the good news, as they died in the Roman coliseums and as they hid in the catacombs and worshiped the risen Lord. Jesus was never more present nor more real to them than after that symbolic moment when Luke says, "... and he was taken up to heaven as they watched him, and a cloud hid him from their sight."


Today, as we look at this story of the ascension, there are a few things which I think are important.


1. When Jesus Disappeared, The Disciples Knew They Were Still Linked To Him.

2. When Jesus Disappeared, The Disciples Were Bound Together In Faith.

3. When Jesus Disappeared, The Disciples Were In A Spirit Of Anticipation.


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Grace and Peace,

Rev. Brett Blair
ChristianGlobe Network presents Leonard Sweet