To many people, the ascension reads more like a comic book than a show of God’s power. It’s a somewhat magical story of superhero proportions in which Jesus becomes a dude with super human powers. But even if we don’t treat it this way, most of us still find ourselves like those first witnesses. Stuck, we shout at the sky and wonder, “Are you coming back Jesus?”
I can’t say that I blame the disciples and followers gathered that day. It has been an emotional month, crucifixion, resurrection, trials and sudden appearances, never knowing where Jesus is going to be or what’s going to happen next. I don’t doubt that had I been on that hill in Galilee that day, I too would have stood looking up at the sky wondering, waiting, and hoping. Maybe you can relate. The truth is, even though I wasn’t there that day, I do sometimes stand around and wonder, “Are you coming back, Jesus?”
This especially happens in the face of atrocities like the Manchester bombing or the murder of Coptic Christians in Egypt. As people of faith, our first cry should be to our Lord, our King, now risen and ascended. After all, Jesus now has all power and authority. What we forget is that Jesus promises and gives this power to us. It is like the adrenaline that allows a desperate mother to lift the 2,000 lb. car to save her trapped child. It comes just when we need it. We are able to do things we wouldn’t be able to otherwise. It keeps us focused on the task at hand. And perhaps most importantly, it engages when compassion for others moves us. This power is not given for our own selfish wants or even to get what we need. Jesus Christ gives it to us so that we can bear witness to him by being like he is.