The disciples watched as Jesus ascended from the earth. Gradually, they noticed that He was going up and up, right before their eyes. Such was their surprise, rapt attention and helplessness that, even after He had disappeared from sight, they stood there, gazing into the sky. It took two angels to shift their attention. The angels asked them, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11 NKJV). Only then could they return to Jerusalem, to the Upper Room, where they stayed together, ruminating over the recent events they had witnessed.
This story is very easy for us to understand today, because we have the full details laid out and a few minutes of reading a few chapters of the Bible will let us know how Jesus was born, how He ministered, died, rose again and ascended to heaven. A few hours of Bible study explains it all. We love the story, because it is the source of our salvation. If He had not been born, if He had not suffered and died, we would not have been saved or have access to forgiveness and to God. We are grateful and we never stop thanking God for His indescribable gift!
However, have we ever given a thought to what the disciples went through? Can you imagine how excited they must have been, watching Jesus heal the sick, raise the dead and preach the good news? It must have felt like the days of heaven on earth. The Kingdom of Heaven had arrived! Imagine again the fear and confusion they must have felt when Jesus was arrested. Some would have thought He would free Himself or disappear from prison or deal with the soldiers one way or the other. Imagine the apprehension they felt as He carried the cross to the place of crucifixion. Surely, He was not going to allow the Roman soldiers kill Him? They left everything to follow Him. Was this how it was all going to end? Surely, if the Pharisees and Sadducees succeeded in killing Jesus, they would come for His followers afterwards, not so?
Many of them went into hiding after the arrest and sentencing of Jesus. The women followed Him to the cross, along with a few die hard followers like John. News spread that He was crucified and actually died. Imagine the holes in the ground into which the disciples would have hidden themselves! One follower, Joseph of Arimathea, was bold enough to ask for His body, which he placed in a tomb. Sorrow prevailed. Ah! The Hope of Israel was dead. All was lost! Thanks be to God that Jesus arose on the third day. For forty days thereafter, they touched Him, ate with Him, listened to Him teach. They never wanted Him to leave again.
Imagine the fascination with which they watched Him as He left them again. This time, there were no Roman soldiers and no pain. It was a delightful departure for Him, but an enthralling encounter for the disciples. They went back to the Upper Room, to await the promise of the Holy Spirit.
The important news today is not that Jesus died and rose, even though that is still very important; but that He is coming again. Like the angels announced to the disciples, as they stood, gazing into the sky. “ This same Jesus…will so come in like manner…” He is coming again, descending from the clouds, the same way He left the earth.
What are we doing about that, in a world that refuses to acknowledge Jesus as Lord? What are we doing about it, in a Church that refuses to acknowledge that He is coming physically again? Some are enjoying earth so much, that they would rather He never come. As someone once said, ‘ Heaven can wait.’ The Bible says He is preparing a gift for those who love His appearing. Are you loving His appearing?
It took hundreds of years between the time Jesus’ birth was prophesied and the time He was born in Bethlehem. There were so many prophecies regarding His birth and the people argued about it so much that, when He finally came, they did not recognize Him. Are we learning lessons from the Israelites of old? Will we recognize the signs of His coming? Will we be ready? Are we loving His appearing? Are we preparing ourselves for that day? The Bible says “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. even so, Amen.” Rev. 1:7 NKJV. This message is for me as it is for everybody. We sometimes get so entangled in the affairs of this world, that we forget to pay attention to what is important. Because He is coming, truly, and we need to be ready to welcome Him.
I’m glad to be alive to celebrate this Easter and I am glad to shout with brethren, the world over “ He is Risen”. Can we also add to that and mean it, “He is Coming Again!”
May the blessings of the resurrection be yours. Amen.
Even so, come Lord Jesus!