Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – May 5, 2016
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” Acts 1:8-10
As we encounter the ascension of Jesus, we reach the fulfillment of his earthly mission. However, so often this portion of the life and ministry of Jesus is overlooked, relegated to the footnotes section of history or viewed as a simple way to wrap the story up. Yet nothing could be further from the truth!
For us to understand the mission of the church and God’s ongoing work in the world, we have to see the crucial importance of the ascension of Jesus Christ.
While the ascension of Jesus is on the one hand a finish line, it is on the other hand the continuation of God’s mission to love and redeem the world. When Jesus ascended into heaven, it wasn’t a simple departure or the removal of his presence. Instead, it is directly linked to the gift of the Spirit and the empowering of the early Christians to live out the mission of the church. As Jesus himself said, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.”
When we speak of Jesus and our relationship with him, we often focus on his love and care for us. We thank him for his healing grace and unconditional love that renews and restores our souls. Yet the ascension challenges us to remember that his love and renewing presence is meant to lead us into faithful lives of mission and bold witness.
Christian discipleship isn’t simply about our own spiritual needs and fulfillment. It is also directly linked to God’s desire to bring his love and blessing to the world, and we as the church are his chosen means to bring this about! Yet so often we focus on our private and personal lives with God and neglect this calling that he has given to us. In fact, even the early disciples were slow to grasp it! When Jesus tells them to go into the world as witnesses of God’s power and love, they are instead left staring off into the distance. It takes an angelic exhortation to kick-start their mission! As John Stott once said, “their calling was to be witnesses not stargazers.” Perhaps we need the same reminder.
The love of God is moving throughout the world today in powerful, earth shaking, transformative ways. It is the love that brings hope to the hopeless and joy to the brokenhearted. It is the love that inspires and animates God’s work of restoration and renewal. And it is the love that we have known and encountered, yet are also meant to boldly witness and proclaim in our homes, neighborhoods, cities, and beyond.
PrayerFather, as we encounter your love and grace may we also boldly bear witness to your coming kingdom and the renewal of all things.
ApplicationHow can you bear witness today to God’s kingdom and great love for the world?
Related ReadingPsalm 47; Psalm 93; Luke 24:44-53; Ephesians 1:15-23
Post/Tweet todayChrist’s ascension was the launching pad for the infant church to be empowered by the Spirit as bold witnesses for Jesus. #WisdomHunters #witnesses
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