There is work to be done
“What are you standing there staring into space?” That was the question to the sky-gazing disciples, and it could have been taken as a gentle rebuke. It was followed by the exhortation: “Don’t just stand there. Get on with it.” Here is why Ascension is more topical than ever.
The text in the New King James Version of the Bible is a little different of course: “And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven’” (Acts 1: 10–11).
But the message is the same: don’t persist in wonder or sorrow; prepare yourselves actively for Christ’s return.
Actively filling an entire book
This is precisely what the Apostles did—and so zealously that the Bible dedicated a whole book to it. To cite just a few examples:
- The disciples allowed themselves to be filled with the Holy Spirit. They gave witness—whether it was with a passionate sermon on Pentecost or their bold testimony before the council. “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
- The first Christians established the congregation. They completed the circle of the Apostles and appointed stewards for the poor, who were later called deacons. They lived the gospel, shared fellowship, broke bread together, and prayed together.
- The Apostles healed the sick, like the lame beggar at the gate of the temple, following the principle: “Then Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’”
An action programme for today
These examples still serve as an example for us today. And that is why the message today is: instead of continually brooding over a biblical event that you cannot understand or worrying about when Jesus Christ will return, don’t just stand there staring into space, but get on with it and make a difference.
What needs to be done has been laid out in the Acts of the Apostles.
- Allow yourself to be filled with the Holy Spirit. God’s love has been poured out into our hearts. Now all we have to do is allow Him to guide us and determine our actions. That way we will give the best testimony that Jesus could wish for. For actions speak louder than words.
- Establish the congregation. That includes becoming active and serving our neighbour or tearing down barriers that separate. It also means approaching people on the fringes. And where someone may barely be able to move, we can fold our hands.
- Healing the sick. You do not need to perform a miracle. All you have to do is show compassion to wounded souls and give them what you have: comfort and courage that comes from faith in Jesus.
Ascension marked the end of Christ’s story on earth and the beginning of Christianity. Before that—until the outpouring of the Holy Spirit—Jesus allowed His disciples some respite. And then things really started to move forward.
In ten days’ time we will celebrate Pentecost. There is time enough for each one of us to pick one of the points from the action programme of the first Christians and get on with it. And then things will really move forward.
Photo: MP2 - stock.adobe.com