Last week was Easter Sunday.
Now, ever since I took on the role of "preacher", I have become increasingly aware that Easter Sunday is a bit of a big deal to preachers. For one thing, lots of people in the world still prioritize going to a worship service on Easter even if they do not go at any other time (Case in point: I received this text last Sunday morning from one you: "Man! Full house! Don't mess this deal up!").
But more than that, at least for me, it is an opportunity to focus on the unbelievable hope, beauty, and good contained in the Resurrection of Jesus.
But last Sunday morning, when I was sitting on the church pew, and the worship team was singing that last song before I was to stand up and share a message about the work of Christ in the Resurrection, I found myself lost in thinking about the Ascension.
It was an inopportune time, most certainly. I was about to get up and needed to focus on my message for today, which was literally at hand, but I was irresistibly thinking about this week's message. Thoughts were exploding into my mind, but I did not have time to open my notes app and write them down... I needed to get on with what was happening now.
As I reflect on it, now that it is time to think about the Ascension, I'm wondering if Jesus had a bit of this going on, too. He knew he needed to be crucified, and he knew he would resurrect, but I wonder if what he was really excited about, and perhaps what carried him through the impending suffering, was actually the coming Ascension.
Think about it: In that last supper, in John 16:28, before his death, he says to his buddies, "I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father."
They had no clue at the time, but looking back, we now know - he was talking about his Ascension. That is when he would return to Heaven and sit down at his Father's right hand (John 20:17).
Philip Yancy suggests, "If Easter Sunday was the most exciting day of the disciples lives, for Jesus it was probably the day of Ascension." Maybe this is, at least in part, what Hebrews 12:2 means when it says, "For the joy set before him [Jesus] endured the cross."
There is something personal for Jesus, and powerful for us, about Ascension. What? What gift has God given us in the Ascension? Don't miss it, church. Even if you have all of your life. Jesus knew what was in it for us. Do you?