After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-11
Jesus keeps things interesting, doesn’t he? The apostles were just asking him about bringing the Kingdom, probably the last thing they were expecting was for him to leave them again! Yet leave them he does, and in a very memorable manner.
Sometimes it’s hard to be the one left behind, even if it’s necessary and even good. My daughter is going through her phase of separation anxiety right now. As soon as she is left by my husband or I- even if we just walk into the kitchen and she’s in the living room- she starts to cry. But as good parents it’s essential that we let her learn that she’s ok even when we leave for short periods of time. It’s part of teaching her to be independent and resilient, even if it’s not her preference in the moment. Jesus leaving the disciples allows them to grow up, in a sense. He gives them the opportunity to put into action what he has commissioned them to do, as confusing and frustrating as it may have felt. And as we see in the rest of the New Testament, they are able to do so in ways they probably never imagined!
And, he doesn’t truly leave them alone. Jesus has physically left their presence to ascend to heaven, but he isn’t gone from their story. Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection permeates all of Acts and is the motivating factor behind all that his followers do and say. And as the angel reminds the Apostles at the end of this passage, Jesus will return in the same way they have seen him go into heaven (v. 11).
Listen to your favorite worship song today and praise Jesus for all he has done, and all he continues to do in our world.
By Jessica Rust