Easter 7, 2024

On Thursday of this week, God willing, we will observe the much neglected but important festival of the Ascension. Luke tells us that forty days, that’s this Thursday, Jesus took His disciples out to a hill outside of Jerusalem, the Mt. of Olives, and ascended into heaven. I have always enjoyed Robert Capon’s take on that. He asked the question of what other option did Jesus have? Simply hanging around would not do. Soon he would have become a faith-denying oddity. But if He went somewhere, where would He go? Left or right would not do. Then people would simply look for Him in the next city or the next country. Down certainly would not do, that has a wholly other message. No, he went up. He ascended.

Fifteen Hundred years later Luther met with Zwingli at the Marburg Colloquy. The two great reformers agreed on 14 points, including the doctrine of justification. But they could not agree on the Lord’s Supper. Zwingli pointed to the Ascension as proof that Jesus was not here anymore. “Where do you think He is?” asked Luther. “Why, in heaven,” responded the exasperated Zwingli. “Only an ignorant pig would interpret that passage that way,” retorted Luther. “Then were did he go?” cried Zwingli? “Into the Cosmos.” Luther asserted.

Where do you think Jesus is? How does that relate to your doctrine and practice of the Lord’s Supper, Baptism, preaching, prayer, and the study of God’s Word? Could Jesus show up for you as He did for Paul in Acts 23:11? Was Jesus there the whole time and did He only choose that moment to show up?

The preacher who comes to this strange time between the Ascension and the Day of Pentecost will want to wrestle with that. Your sermon will be better for it. Did Jesus enter His creation at the Ascension or leave it?

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