“All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” — John 17:10
Luke tells us that the disciples respond in joyful worship to Jesus’ ascension and wait to be clothed with “power from on high.” (Luke 24:49-53). To my mind, this seems a strange response to the departure of the leader you’d hoped would establish an earthly rule. But the disciples were steeped in Israel’s Old Testament stories and would remember that the prophet Elijah, like Jesus, ascended to heaven after his earthly ministry. They would remember that they, like Elisha, were left behind to take up Elijah’s cloak with its “double portion” of his spirit. With this story in their hearts, they could wait with eager anticipation for this new mystery that would anoint them for the next chapter in the story of the God’s people.
As humans, we long for strong leadership, and it is difficult for us to understand why Jesus would return in resurrected life for just 50 days, and then leave behind this rag-tag group of fickle followers to carry on his message and mission. But the Gospel story is more than the life, death and resurrection story of Jesus. If the story ended with his Ascension, it would miss our need for union with God. While the Resurrection declares victory over sin and death, the arrival of the Holy Spirit re-institutes His Kingdom on earth by restoring our union with Him. The relationship that was lost in the Garden is now re-established by the Holy Spirit’s indwelling presence. Hallelujah!
With the gift of the Holy Spirit, our relationship with God is renewed, but this union also provides power for the mission–the holy-living, gospel-telling, life-restoring mission of grace. As strange as it might seem to us, the narrative of the Resurrection story continues in our Easter lives. Indeed, Jesus declares that our actions in the Spirit are “the greater works” of his Kingdom (John 14:12).
In this space between the Ascension and the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, let us take up the Easter mantle with its double-portion of blessing, remembering that this very day our renewed, Holy Spirit-powered lives continue to write the Resurrection story.
- 2 Kings 2:1-14
- John 14:12-20
- Ephesians 4:1-16