A Good Message for Us
Something occurred to me while I was reading about the Ascension of Jesus in today’s reading at the beginning of the Acts of theApostles (Chapter 1:6).
You may recall, after Jesus died and rose from the dead, he appeared to many people in his resurrected body, before he ascended to heaven. Before his Ascension, he promised he would send the Advocate (who I talked about in my recent blog, How Embarrassing, Right?)
Anyway, before he ascended, with people gathered around him, he reminded them to “wait for ‘the promise of the Father’ about which you have heard me speak.” Of course, he was talking about the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
Now remember, people at that time were waiting for a leader to come in military fashion and save them from Roman oppression. Because of this, they asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Jesus answered them, telling them it was not for them to know the “times or seasons” because they were established by the Father according to his own authority.
What struck me was that these people who had been following Jesus around and living with him before he died, who had seen him in his resurrected body, still had the idea that he was going to be that kind of leader?
How could they still ask Jesus a question like that after all this time?
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because in today’s gospel reading from Matthew (Chapter 28:17), again with the resurrected Jesus, scripture tells us that on the mountain in Galilee, the eleven disciples (remember, no Judas), “worshiped, but they doubted” when they saw Jesus.
They doubted? After all they had been through with him? What’s going on here?
It is important for us to keep in mind a key element in these exchanges—they continued to worship, even though they doubted.
Having doubts does not mean that your faith is not solid. The apostles were living in a chaotic time and they still clung to hope that some leader would come and save their communities and open up their lives. They didn’t float on air when they walked around; no, their feet were squarely planted in reality still.
Jesus was their leader-savior, but he did not free them from the Romans; he brought them greater freedom by giving them eternal life.
It seems from today’s reading that the Apostles still had a lot to learn. They were still growing in their understanding. That is a good message for us.
There is always room for us to grow. It is okay to keep asking questions. But we need to keep worshipping, even while waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus had to ascend to heaven so the Advocate could come. Keep following the narrative . . . it’s a good one.