The gospel writers record that during the weeks after Christ’s death and resurrection Jesus appeared to the disciples on many different occasions. In fact the Apostle Paul catalogues many of these resurrection appearances in his letter to the Corinthians, not least an appearance to 500 people at the same time. After a period of 40 days these resurrection appearances come to an abrupt end.
Jesus gathers his disciples together for one last teaching opportunity. He gives them instructions to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the coming Holy Spirit. He commissions them to take the Good News to all the ends of the earth and then he was taken up to heaven before their very eyes. This was different to all Jesus’ other departures over the last final days. His ascension indicates that this would be the last time they would be able to see, hear or touch the physical body of the resurrected Lord Jesus.
Luke describes that they were looking intently up into the sky as he left them. I imagine the disciples to be standing with wide eyes and jaws dropped as they tried in amazement to process what they had just seen. They were still staring into the sky after Jesus when two men dressed in white appeared alongside them. These angelic beings asked them why they were standing there looking into the sky. Gently they reminded the disciples of what Jesus had said ‘This same Jesus will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven’. Assured of this the disciples obeyed Jesus’ instruction to return to Jerusalem and wait for the Holy Spirit.
There are so many different truths tripping over each other in Luke’s account that it is impossible to cover them all. Let us focus on the phrase ‘This same Jesus will come back’. Christianity has an eternal perspective on time. Although human life passes in the blink of an eye compared to the age of the universe the hope that Christ offers us extends far beyond this life. The witness of millions of Christians down the centuries is that following Christ enables people to live hope filled lives even through the toughest of circumstances, whether that be illness or poverty, persecution or famine, earthquake or war. Our hope is that Christ will one day return. On that day he will mete out justice to everyone who has ever lived. Some will be placed on his left and some will be placed on his right. Those on the right will be ushered into their inheritance in God’s eternal kingdom, what in Revelation is described as the New Heaven and New Earth that lasts for ever. Those on the left will be driven into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
Some feel the fate of those on the left is a bit harsh, however the offer is there for everyone to turn to Jesus during this brief life and guarantee their eternal security.
Christ WILL come again, will you be ready for him?