Today is Ascension Day! On this day in the Easter season we celebrate the occasion when Jesus was with his disciples, offering final instructions about what to expect when he went to be with the Father, and then was taken up in to the clouds and was gone. Celebrating the absence of Jesus seems odd but Jesus’ departure from the earth to the the right hand of the Father in heaven is actually good news for us.
Anglican priest, Glenn Packiam wrote “What Does the Ascension of Jesus Mean?” on his mysteryoffaithblog.com. He compares the accounts of Jesus’ Ascension to heaven with the story of the prophet Elijah being taken into heaven.
In the Elijah story, there is an anointed prophet (Elijah) and an apprentice (Elisha). The sign that the empowerment which the prophet had would be passed on in greater measure to the apprentice was that the apprentice would see the prophet being taken up into heaven. In the Jesus story, the anointed Prophet promises an empowerment—which would be better than His physical presence—and then is seen being taken up out of their sight. Luke (the writer of Acts) very clearly seems to be referencing the Elijah story in the way he describes Jesus’ ascension. And he’s doing it to make a statement: The ascension of Jesus is about our empowerment.
When we put those two things together we begin to grasp what the Ascension of all about: The ascension of Jesus is about His enthronement over all and our empowered by the Spirit.
That is something to have a feast about.