Road rip. 40-days on a bus. Forty days, or 40-years. It’s a journey. A journey across a continent, a journey across desert, a journey through time. What difference does it make? At the Ascension, I ponder Jesus and His 40-days in the desert doing battle with a demon. A trip across time. At the ascension, what was the beginning point? Forty days before was Christ’s resurrection, and three days before that was the horror. To see the resurrection was not to be blind to the horror, the crucifixion still was prominent.(Manchester, May, 2017) The brutality, and the inhumanity did not disappear. They were present, society did not change. The horror that predated the Nativity is in full swing Easter morning. It is not baskets full of chocolate bunnies for the disciples, the Good Friday brutality was in full swing the following Easter Monday. That is a realistic interpretation of their world. A bus load of Coptic Christians was just slaughtered for their faith.(2017)That is something to imagine. When those first disciples saw the risen LORD, they were not blind to the horror that accompanied Jesus. ISIS. In that time they saw flickering glimpses if the LORD, a flickering light in near darkness. Don’t underestimate that contrast. If Christ was the Light, the world was an abysmal darkness; yet the Apostles saw that light, a glimmer of hope. They pondered a risen Lord, they proclaimed Him and they marveled at what occurred. A light that cut through the darkness. Don’t underestimate the Light, but don’t underestimate the darkness either.
(Note: in Manchester an ISIS terrorist ignites a bomb at a concert. In Egypt ISIS slaughters a bus full of Coptic Christians on pilgrimage. May 2017. Brutality then and now.)
If the resurrection was a flickering light, what was the ascension? The resurrection was a realization that the Christ could not be defeated. In the resurrection they saw a Christ alive on earth, a Christ that was not cast to a distant galaxy. A God that was near to them, they were not abandoned. They saw proof, and with that proof the scales dropped from their eyes. A flicker of light becomes a bonfire, a light for all to see. It cannot be denied. Christ wandered a desert for forty days and defeated the devil, the Apostles wandered through the resurrection for forty days and proclaimed their God. It’s a journey in time and in space. A journey from desolation towards the divine. A promise fulfilled.
With that proclamation and that ascension the Apostles and disciples could not be defeated. Death had been conquered and their persecutors had no hold on them. They could be hunted, and tortured, and mocked, and imprisoned, and murdered. They could not be defeated, powerful men had no authority over an almighty God. That is the realization of the Feast of the Ascension. It is the realization that the Kingdom of God is truly at hand. As the Hebrews wandered the desert for 40-years to reach their promise, The Apostles promise is fulfilled at the end of their Easter journey. 40-days. The LORD ( their LORD) ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. After 40-days in the desert tempted by the devil, Jesus begins His ministry. Standing together watching their Lord ascend on a cloud, the Apostles begin their journey in Christ..