Today, as we remember the Ascension of the Resurrected Jesus, our gaze turns upward. We stand with those earliest disciples who…
…as they were watching, [saw Jesus] lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1.9-11).
Forty days of walking, sitting, eating, being with Jesus as he demonstrated his reality to them and taught about the Kingdom of God…and they’re ready to see that Kingdom come, to see at last the restoration of all things, the realignment of creation back into its proper order. The Last Days have become the Present Day, and they’re ready to see the answer to the prayer he taught them to pray: “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as in heaven.”
But now, defying understanding and defying gravity, Jesus rises from the earth, and then is enveloped in a cloud of glory like the cloud they saw on the Mount of Transfiguration, like the cloud that descended on Mount Sinai where Moses saw God face-to-face…and Jesus is gone, and they’re left with his words and a promise of his return.
What has happened? Paul, writing a few years later about the Ascension, says,
“And [God] has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1.20-23).
“God has put all things under his feet.” All creation, all nations, all humanity, all peoples have been placed by God under the influence of Jesus. This is as it should be; this is what was intended from the beginning. What was lost with the fall and rebellion of Genesis chapter 3 is restored. A realignment of the created order.
That word, realignment, resonates with me. Once upon a time Leslie and I had significant back problems, and spent time under the hands of chiropractors and osteopaths. We know the pain and weariness of trying to function when our bodies are not properly aligned, and we know the release and freedom that comes through a skilled chiropractor. And that’s a vivid picture for me of what’s wrong with our world – because of sin and death, we are out of alignment.
But now with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, God has given a cosmic chiropractic readjustment to the spine of creation. Crack! The Head – Jesus – is restored to his proper place, and the body – that’s us – has been made whole and filled with the life of God himself.
That’s the Big Picture, and it is reality. This is our new way of seeing – the Ascended Jesus is the seated king, powerfully influencing all events and all people, past, present, and future, bringing restoration.
Almighty God, whose only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven: May our hearts and minds also there ascend, and with him continually dwell; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (Collect for Ascension Day)
Your Pastor in Christ,