Monday, April 30, 2012

Acts 1:1--11

"The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. And gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, 'Which,' He said, 'you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.' And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, 'Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?' He said to them, 'It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.'
And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, 'Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.' "

Forty days after rising from the dead, the Lord Jesus rose from the earth, ascending while His astonished disciples looked on. Suddenly two angels appeared, asking them why they were standing for such a long time, looking after Him... Like Mary at the tomb, clutching at His robe, His disciples were now visually clinging to Him, yearning to keep Him in sight for as long as possible. (Then, as now, it is always easier to walk by sight than by faith.) In their case it took two angels to pry their eyes from the skies, assuring them of His return in like manner as He had left.
The Lord's ascension was absolutely essential. He had to return to the Father. Much as the disciples wanted Him to stay, to know His nearness as they had experienced it for the years He walked with them, He simply could not remain with them now. Intrinsically linked to His ascension was the sending of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7). This One of the same nature as the Lord Jesus, with the added attribute of omnipresence, would bring to their remembrance all that the He had said, empowering them for accomplishing what He had commanded. As emotionally difficult as it was to bear His physical leaving, it truly was for the best.

"Father, grant the needed grace to do what needs to be done when it needs to be done whether we feel like it or not. Emotions can cloud our judgment, fog up our view of You, and wreak havoc with our priorities. Call us back to the basics: to love You first & foremost. To be doers of Your Word, and not hearers, only.
In Your Son's Name,

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