At first, Jesus’ friends are “startled and terrified, and thought
that they were seeing a ghost” (24:37). They simply cannot
believe it is Jesus. He offers his wounds as proof. They have to
see before they will accept the truth. I urge us to remember this
scene when we feel tempted to try to hide our wounds or weaknesses:
These prove our humanity.
Just to make sure that his followers knew that it’s really
Jesus in the flesh, he asks for something to eat. He takes a piece
of broiled fish, and they watch him eat it. I picture him smiling
as he swallows it. And I’m guessing those gathered shed more
than a few joyful tears. His friends are beginning to believe. By
the time he recounts the events of the previous days and anoints
them as witnesses, they are sure.
So the group follows him to Bethany. He lifts his hands
and blesses them. And then he disappears again—carried up to
heaven and out of their sight.
We would think that Jesus’ ascension would send his
friends into a major depression after their hopes have been
raised and then so quickly dashed again. But they return to
Jerusalem “with great joy.” Something they can’t yet see or
understand lies in store for them. Without knowing fully what it
meant, they cling to the promise that they will be “clothed with
power from on high.”
These disciples trust in the God that the author of Ephesians
describes as the One “who by the power at work within us
is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or
imagine” (3:20). We may not always know or understand what
is in store for us, but we can trust that God sees what we cannot.
Gracious God, help me to trust in your promises and to live in joyful hope. Amen.
The entire Easter season focuses on the new governance that breaks the grip of all that is old, tired, deathly, and enslaving. The psalm shows the church using the ancient language of enthronement. Now it is Jesus through whom the drama of God’s power is brought to fruition. In Acts, the community accepts the new governance as a bold witness in the world, sustained by a disciplined life of prayer. The epistle reading addresses people who are in the midst of suffering, hurt, and need. They are enjoined to powerful hope for the time of God’s eventual and full triumph. The Gospel portrays the church under the power of God’s resolve, being given a wholly new identity and vocation in the world.
• Read Acts 1:6-14. Having received the power of the Holy Spirit, how is your life unfolding?
• Read Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35. When have you sensed God’s absence? How did you attempt to fill that void?
• Read 1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11.When has God restored you?
• Read John 17:1-11. Where do you see Jesus as you go about your daily life?
Respond by posting a prayer.