(Part 44)


June 1, 2014
Ascension Sunday

Today’s readings:
Acts 1:1-11
Psalm 47:2-9
Ephesians 1:17-23
Matthew 28:16-20

Our theme for this year, Empowered to Witness, is founded on the work of the Holy Spirit as pronounced by Jesus. “But you will receive power when the holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). This is empowerment for the work of worldwide evangelization. Indeed, Jesus himself commissioned his disciples (that includes us) before he ascended into heaven. “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations” (Mt 28:18-19a). God sends and God empowers.

Jesus is “the great king over all the earth” (Ps 47:3b). God created everything and so owns everything. However, the enemy has usurped God’s dominion. So Jesus came to redeem us. He finished his work and returned to heaven. God “worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens” (Eph 1:20). Thus “God has gone up with a shout” (Ps 47:6a). But the work of salvation remains unfinished, in that it needs to be proclaimed, so that people might believe and be saved.

Jesus once asked, when the Son of Man returns, will he find faith on earth? The way things are going in the world, Jesus will not find much faith …. if we do not do our designated work. God calls us, God chooses us, God gives us the privilege to do divine work, God empowers us. What holds us back? How can we face Jesus when he returns? “This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” (Acts 1:11b).

If we however act, then we will experience “the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might” (Eph 1:19). So let us believe and not doubt. Let us not be like the disciples, who, “when they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted.” (Mt 28:17). And let us not dilly-dally. Two angels told the disciples, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?” (Acts 1:11a). We long for Jesus to return, but we have work to do in the meantime. And of course, even as Jesus remains in heaven, he is with us even now through his Spirit, until he comes again. “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Mt 28:20b).

May our Lord touch our hearts and minds to understand his Great Commission and our part in it. I pray “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones” (Eph 1:17-18). We have received such a wonderful call, such a great mission. We have been “baptized with the holy Spirit” (Acts 1:5b) and thus we have been empowered. Let us respond boldly and joyfully, and move forward in the power of God’s Spirit.

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