Summary: The Ascension was a BIG DAY in the church and Jesus is there with the Father in heaven on our team, looking out for us still. So are we living like he is?
Thursday was a big day in the life of the Church. I was in Wellington on Thursday learning more about Natural Church development which is a Church Health Survey that’s been put together by a bloke by the name of Christian A Swartz who will incidentally be in Christchurch in a couple of weeks to conduct a seminar on the subject. You may have also heard about a book he wrote called The 3 Colours of Ministry. But that’s not the reason that the day was important; the reason the day was important was due to something Jesus did.
That’s right it was the commemoration of Jesus ascension into Heaven. There are a few accounts of this happening forty days after the resurrection of Jesus. The following account is from Luke’s gospel Chapter 24:50-53.
Now that would be BIG DAY stuff!
Remember these blokes had seen a bit in the time they were with Jesus. People healed, the dead raised, fish producing the temple tax, Jesus walk on water and raised from the dead. But remember Sci-Fi was an unknown commodity, no Star Trek’s Scotty beaming anyone up, no Star Gate SG1 worm holes to other worlds, our for those of you who remember the “Tomorrow People” no jaunting. What is it the gospel writer says? “While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.” The thing to remember here is that at this time the closest anyone had got to a human ascending was a rapid decent jumping off something, though there was the legend of Icarus, the Greek bloke who flew to close to the sun and the wax holding is wings together melted with tragic consequences. We also have an account of Jesus ascending in the book of Acts and a later account of Jesus on His feet in Heaven while Stephen was being killed by an angry crowd.
When I spoke on this topic last year I said; we don’t know what Jesus was thinking, but on his feet out of concern, feeling the pain that Stephen is to go through, yelling stop to those who about to stone Stephen, ready to welcome Stephen to heaven? We don’t know exactly why he’s standing, but Jesus is seen to be out of his seat.
Here’s a thought, where do The Canterbury Crusaders find you at the Big Game or in front of the tele and will Dan Carter be kicking? Are scores tied; Too right you’ll be out of your seat!
Remember Jesus is truly and properly God and truly and properly man. He feels the emotions you feel he knows suffering, joy, hunger, happiness, the taste of bread dipped in olive oil, he understands where you are at.
That day he understood what Stephen was going through. Like you are there for your team, The Lord was there for Stephen. Just as The Lord was there as witness to those events, he is with us!
How is he there for us?
Well I want now to take a bit of a diversion and head back to something Jesus said pre-ascending something that he made a reasonable sort of a deal about with His disciples. Matthew in his gospel tells us “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Chapter 11:28-30.
Now I’ve been walking the Christian walk since I was sixteen when God impacted me with His Holy Spirit and there are some times when I’ve tried doing the whole “Christian thing on my lonesome” and it just doesn’t work, but I’m a fairly simple soul. There are times when I’ve tried to overcome sin on my own, when I’ve tried to encounter spiritual growth on my own, when I’ve known best and done it like Frank Sinatra, “My Way”. Now I’ve learnt from the experience and it just doesn’t work. Jesus teaching is about community and firstly relationship with God. That’s why we are commanded to “love the Lord our God, with?” and to “Love our neighbour as or selves” Hence the Corps Vision of “Living for God, serving all people.”
The thing about Jesus yolk is that he gave it to lighten burdens, but it’s about learning from Him, if you are still getting the same results in your Christian journey struggling in the same life battles you may not have His yolk on you. You may be caught in the yolk of the Law, that heavy “an eye for an eye” type stuff rather than the lightness of turning the other check. What was it Jesus actually said about this yolk, firstly do we know what a yolk is other than the yellow bit of an egg. The wooden thing that people used to carry a load, or to harness animals for ploughing, now with that in mind think again about Jesus words; “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” I think I’ve mentioned before that horrible saying that goes “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’re always going to get what you’ve always got.” The Jewish people back in the day were caught in that kind of a rut and Jesus was showing them a new way.