Summary: Stop Being A Baby About Jesus’ Ascension (He may be concealed, but he’s not gone.)
Have you ever tried to play hide-and-seek with a newborn? Try it the next time you’re around a baby who is less than three months old and you’ll find out that it isn’t much fun. Why not? Because babies that young haven’t yet developed a sense of “object permanence.” They haven’t figured out that when you hide a stuffed animal, for example, it doesn’t mean that it has gone. So when you pop the animal back out and shout “Peek-a-boo!” you’ll only succeed in scaring the kid to tears because as far as he was concerned, the stuffy had left and so he was on to looking at other things in the room. Even if you were to hide the stuffy in the exact same spot, the baby will assume again that the stuffy has gone and will start to think about other things. It’s not until infants get a bit older that they figure out that just because they can’t see something doesn’t mean that it has gone. When they get to that point they’ve developed “object permanence.”
Christians are often like newborns when it comes to Jesus’ ascension. Because we can’t see Jesus we figure that he has gone and we become distracted by a lot of other things in the world. Well I want to challenge you to stop being a baby about Jesus’ ascension! He may be concealed, but he’s not gone. Let’s find out how this truth will make a difference in our daily lives. Let’s develop some object permanence in regard to our ascended Lord.
Jesus’ ascension into heaven took place 40 days after his resurrection. Do you remember how he spent his time during those 40 days? He hung out with his disciples and other believers proving to them that he was really alive. He also spent those remaining days teaching his disciples about the kingdom of God. As far as we know he didn’t use that time to perform miracles like healing the blind or making the lame walk as he had done before his death and resurrection. No, Jesus thought it was much more important and beneficial that his disciples get into God’s Word again during those last forty days.
That’s Jesus’ ongoing will for you too. Sure, you may have already spent years studying the Bible, but I hope you don’t think you’ve learned all there is to know. And frankly the reason we want to keep studying the Bible is not just so that we have more knowledge about God; we study the Bible because it is through that book that Jesus strengthens and comforts us. The Bible is like a cell phone through which God is constantly texting you to encourage you and assure you of his love.
But the Bible won’t tell us everything we would like to know. For example in our text the disciples asked Jesus: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6b) In spite of all the teaching Jesus had done, the disciples still seemed to be looking for Jesus to set up an earthly kingdom. And even if they were only wondering about when Judgement Day would come, Jesus said, “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority” (Acts 1:7).
Not only has Jesus not told us when the end will come, he hasn’t given us answers to other questions we might have like what exactly is heaven like? Or why didn’t God destroy Satan the moment he rebelled? Instead of occupying ourselves with questions like those, Jesus wants us to occupy ourselves with the mission he’s given to us. He said to his disciples: “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
To be Jesus’ witnesses. That is our God-given mission. How well are we doing as Jesus’ witnesses? I admit that I don’t do as well as I could. I miss opportunities to tell others about Jesus and I shrug it off. I’m often more concerned about getting something to eat than I am about feeding others the life-giving Word of God. It’s true, not everyone is going to come to faith in Jesus. But if they’re going to choose hell over heaven, they ought to have to jump over us who are on our knees begging them to learn about Jesus!
Perhaps the reason we’re not focused on the mission Jesus has given to us to be his witnesses is because we’re acting like babies in regard to his ascension. We think that because we can’t see Jesus this means that he is gone. And if he’s gone, well, we can do whatever we want right? We’re like the class that go bananas whenever the teacher leaves the room.