In the Christian calendar, last May 21, 2020 was Ascension Day. On May 24, some churches celebrated Ascension Sunday. This is not a popular celebration compared to Resurrection Sunday or Holy Week or Christmas. Nevertheless, we should remember that Jesus stayed for 40 days after His resurrection until He ascended to heaven.
There are two passages in the New Testament that talk about the ascension of Jesus — Acts 1:7 to 11 and Luke 24:50 to 53.
What are the challenges of the Ascension of Jesus?
First challenge: We continue to joyfully worship God.
As stated in the account of Luke, the disciples went back to Jerusalem with great joy, and they continually went to the Temple to praise God. Eventually, they were forced out of the Temple by the Jewish authorities. Then the disciples started to meet in house churches.
There was a joyful demeanor among disciples and early Christians in worshipping God even in the midst of persecution and hardships. This same demeanor should be followed by us. Even in the midst of this pandemic, we must be joyful in worshipping God in our homes or wherever that may be.
Second challenge: We continue to be faithful in serving God.
As we can see in the book of Acts, the disciples were emboldened by the resurrection and subsequent ascension of Jesus. These events gave the disciples the inspiration and the courage to do what Jesus commanded. They fulfilled the command of Jesus to be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and to the other parts of the known world.
As Christians, we must continue to serve God by being witnesses of Jesus wherever we go in our words and deeds.
Third challenge: We expect the coming again of Jesus with hope.
The disciples who were looking up in the sky as Jesus ascended were reminded by two angels that He is coming back again. This is the reason why the area of Bethany has long been partly a cemetery because people believe that the second coming will happen in that area.
It is this hope of the second coming of Jesus that the early Christians used the Aramaic word “Maranatha” which means “Come, our Lord!” or “The Lord is coming!”
If we have accepted Jesus Christ in our lives, we do not fear His coming again but we say, “Maranatha!”
Rev. Francis Neil G. Jalando-on