“He’s Still in the Sending Business”
The day that commemorates Jesus’ Ascension is the Rodney Dangerfield of the Christian calendar. As the bombastic comedian said every standup-routine, “I’m telling you, I don’t get no respect.”
Jesus’ arrival as a human being (Christmas), his last meal with his disciples (Maundy Thursday, his sacrificial death on the cross (Good Friday), and his empty tomb (Easter) always draw plenty of attention.
But what are we supposed to do with Jesus suddenly rising into the air and disappearing from sight 40 days after his resurrection, the event we call the Ascension?
His original band of followers wrestled with the same question. Just six weeks earlier they felt discouraged. Their master had been sentenced to death by a kangaroo court. When Jesus’ body was laid in a limestone tomb with a big rock in front of it something died in them too. Hope.
But Jesus was alive. And he was loose in the world!
When we get to the N.T. book of Acts, the disciples are excited. Who can blame them? They ask Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” Is this when everybody takes the express elevator to heaven? If they were writing God’s story everything would end right here.
This moment would be called JESUS ENDS. Jesus ends pain and death. Jesus ends the occupation of Roman soldiers. Jesus ends the long and winding road of human history.
But what a surprise they get instead. This is not JESUS ENDS but JESUS SENDS. Jesus’ disciples get a global job assignment.
And that’s the meaning of the Ascension, by vanishing from sight in front of his disciples, Jesus is sending them into the world. They will now be his hands and feet–the ones who in his name will heal the sick, comfort the discouraged, feed the hungry, welcome the stranger and proclaim God’s Good News.
To this day he’s still in the sending business.
If you know that Jesus is still alive and loose in the world, in charge of everything, and goes with you everywhere, what are you planning to do with the rest of your life?
Ron Naylor, Chaplain