“To speak of God’s glory, in biblical terms, is not just to speak of his splendor and beauty (though that too) but also to speak of how weighty, heavy, and substantial he is.” –Andrew Wilson, God of All Things
Today is Ascension Day, the day we remember Jesus’ return to heaven and enthronement as King. After celebrating His fully human Resurrection, it is a day to recognize in His place as God, Lord of all, and head of the Church.
Every time I read the Ascension story, I think, “Why couldn’t you stay with us here Jesus? You would be here to speak definitively to all the controversies of our day. Wouldn’t it be so much easier?” How tempting it is to think so, but if we look at the lives and actions of his disciples, who routinely seemed to miss the point, I doubt we would do any better in our day if Jesus was here in person. To long for Christ’s physical presence is a bit like Peter’s desire at the Transfiguration to build tents and hang out on the mountain. God’s response to Peter’s idea is an immediate display of his holiness and glory that puts them on their knees in worship. We need to be cautious in our desire to settle into a cozy, comfortable relationship with the Lord of the Universe.
As humans, we struggle to hold this tension of Jesus as both God and Man. Often, both aspects of humanity and divinity end up being watered down in our efforts to make meaning of the paradox. If Jesus loses His humanity, he becomes a disembodied presence, speaking platitudes and glowing with a soft aura of light. I have appreciated the recent online TV series The Chosen which does so much to reflect Jesus and his disciples as real people to whom we can relate readily.
On the other hand, if Jesus loses His divinity, he becomes a cheerful companion whom we invite for coffee. In our day, I think we err too often in this image. We have lost the weight of His holiness and the power of His Resurrection. The apocalyptic readings from Ezekiel and John’s Revelation are a good remedy for this error. These prophets present images that are wild and incongruent. They give us a sense of the radical being that we worship and restore the humility necessary to approach the source of all Creation.
Let’s spend time today restoring the awe in the glory of the Resurrected Christ who is God Man King.
- Ezekiel 1:4-28
- Matthew 17:1-8
- Acts 1:1-11
- Ephesians 1:16-23
- Revelation 4:1-11