Following Jesus’ footsteps to heaven
Ascension was both the conclusion and crowning of life on earth. And this was not only the case for Jesus Christ. It must also be the case for believers. The Chief Apostle recently charted the way forward.
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘I shall be with you a little while longer, and then I go to Him who sent Me’” (John 7: 33). This was the Bible text the Chief Apostle used on 26 May 2022 in Künzelsau-Gaisbach, Germany.
Jesus Christ incarnate returns to the Sender
Jesus Christ did not just say that He would return to His Father or to God. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said that He expressly stated that He was going to the one who had sent Him. After all, the Son of God, who is part of the Trinity, left the glory and omnipotence of God with a very specific mission: to reveal God’s love to human beings and to save them.
Once He had accomplished this mission, He took His place in heaven again, in fellowship with God, but in a different way: “God had become man. Not only had the Son of God returned, but Jesus Christ the man. This new man in God could now enter into fellowship with God, thus opening the way for all human beings to enter into fellowship with God.”
The love of Christ remains active
“Jesus Christ continues to love human beings,” the Chief Apostle pointed out. “He is in heaven, He represents us, He defends us before God and the devil; He intercedes for us.” As a matter of fact: “Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ remains present for everyone, everywhere, and at all times.” And finally Jesus promised: “I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” In other words, in fellowship with God.
The age of faith
“What does this mean for believers?” the Chief Apostle asked, referring to the beginning of the age of faith. “The disciples saw Jesus and noticed that He is a good preacher, a great prophet, and can perform great miracles.” And today: “Those who want to follow Jesus Christ must believe in Him without seeing Him with their own eyes.”
“But because Jesus Christ loves human beings, He wants to meet them. “In faith, we can have an encounter with the Lord Jesus, namely in word and in the sacraments,” the Chief Apostle pointed out. “Not every time, not every day, not every hour, but from time to time this miracle happens: ‘For where you are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of you.’”
Envoys on a mission
“We are children of God and are aware that God has sent us into the world to serve and work.” And what does God expect of us?
- “That we are like Jesus Christ. That we act like Jesus Christ in this very world, in this place, in this time, on this particular day.”
- “Absolute trust in God, and very closely connected to God. And nothing can deter us from this. No matter where we are or where we live, no matter what happens, we seek fellowship with Him.”
- “God needs people who pass His message on from generation to generation. God does not do that from heaven. This is something we have to do.”
- “In the circle of the believers, we are to serve one another. There is a tendency in the world today, a kind of consumer mindset. Everyone comes and expects to be taken care of and catered to. We are the church, brothers and sisters!”
- “We also meet the Lord in the poor, in those who are in distress, in those who are in prison, in those who are in a bad way. He did not say: ‘You must go and get this one out of prison and heal this sick person.’ Rather: “Go and visit them, do good. We can let them feel God’s love; sometimes all it takes are little things.”
Strive until He returns
The Chief Apostle said that Jesus expects us to work until the end, until He returns. He made this clear in His parables. “Serve the Lord and serve your neighbour until the end. Believe in the invisible until the end. Seek fellowship with Him until the end, in word and sacrament.” That is one thing, Chief Apostle Schneider said.
“The other thing is that He will come for those who still have the first love for Him and their neighbour. We cannot do a perfect job. But what He does look for is this: ‘Do you love Me? Do you love your neighbour? If so, even though your work was not perfect but you worked until the end, I will lead you into My kingdom.’ And then we will experience the resurrection and ascension at the same time.”