A reflection by Rev. Dr. Roger Webb
Jesus’ earthly ministry had ended, and He then returned to the Father. A new chapter of God’s mission to the world was about to begin, one which placed the responsibility on His followers. The Gospel would flow out from Jerusalem in waves, like ripples on a pond when a stone is dropped into it.
Many people had seen the Risen Christ, but it was possible that some of them still had problems accepting the reality of Jesus’ resurrection, so He took time to once again explain from the Scriptures how He had to die and rise again after 3 days. (What scriptures might He have quoted eg. Isaiah 53?).
Why did Jesus have to return to the Father?
- He had to make it clear that His earthly ministry had ended, and would not be returning again.
- If He remained on earth, He could only be in one place at a time.
- He left so that the Holy Spirit could come.
Having resourced the disciples theologically, Jesus then equipped them with His authority to proclaim the Gospel message throughout the world: the ripples began to flow outwards.
Before blessing the disciples, Jesus promised them the gift of the Holy Spirit’s power to equip them for their mission. (The Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost, some days after Jesus’ Ascension). Jesus’ Ascension and His blessing of the disciples inspired a time of joyful worship in the Temple.
How did the disciples experience the gift of the Spirit?
“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8: NRSV).
(The Greek word for ‘power’ here is dunamis , which is the root of our words such as ‘dynamo’, ‘dynamic’, ‘dynamite’, etc.)
These events are a pattern for us, who have met the Risen and Ascended Christ and seek to contribute our ripples into the community.
- How might we carry out our mission in our community?
- How might the dunamis of the Spirit be manifested in our daily living and witness?
- Does our experience of the Risen an Ascended Christ fill us with joy and inspire us to praise God continually?
An ancient legend: When Jesus returned to heaven, an angel asked Him: “Lord, now you have completed your earthly ministry, what plans have you made to continue your work?” Jesus replied: “I have Peter, James, and John, and all the other believers to continue my mission”. “But what plans have you made if they fail you?” Jesus answered, “I have no other plans”.