(Jesus said) "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
Around 1900 when the world was a little less pseudo-sophisticated, groups of teenage boys from Chicago liked to play tricks on the folks who were seeing the big city for the first time. If there was a group of these visitors, the Chicago boys would suddenly stop, tilt their heads back and stare at the top of a skyscraper. The visitors would do the same.
Even though they didn't know what everybody was looking at, none of the visitors was willing to ask or admit they weren't seeing anything. The spell was broken only when some stouthearted individual would naively or honestly venture: "What's so interesting up there, anyway?"
You know I think the disciples must have felt like those long ago Chicago tourists. At Jesus' ascension the disciples stood, heads tilted back, staring up into the heavens at, well, they really didn't know what they were staring at. But they did know, since this was Jesus, it had to be pretty interesting.
Three years of following Jesus had shown them that Jesus, almost always, was interesting. Those years had given those 12 men ringside seats to see things that had boggled their brains and strained their capacity to comprehend.
* They had seen Jesus turn water into wine at Cana. Unbelievable? No, very believable and tasty (see John 2:1-11).
* They were stumped when Jesus challenged them to feed thousands of people on the spur of the moment. "It can't be done!" they said. Then they watched Jesus do what couldn't be done. They saw Him feed thousands of people with a few loaves of bread and a few fish (see Matthew 14:15-21). They didn't know how He did it. All they could do is say, "It had been done."
* They wondered after they had seen Him speak to a storm and muzzle its force (see Mark 4:37-41). They watched as Jesus walked across the surface of an unsettled sea to calm their concerns (see Matthew 14:23-28).
The disciples had seen many spectacular things. But in the spring of their third year with Him, the disciples saw things take a turn for the worse. In spite of Jesus' words of love, His actions of concern, His message of repentance and salvation, there had always been groups which had detested Him and tried to short-circuit His work (see Mark 12:13).
Years before, when Jesus had called him, John thought he would see many things, but he never thought he would see Jesus die. The cross should have been the end of Jesus' life and love, but it wasn't. A living Lord Jesus came to His disciples and the world and told them, "I live."
It was a moment which changed everything -- as things were changed when Jesus ascended.
It changes everything because Jesus told us to share what we had seen and heard. He has asked us to tell a world that we have seen God's love and plan of salvation is real and alive.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, grant that when it comes to bearing witness, I don't just hang around looking. Having seen Jesus' birth, life, death, resurrection and ascension, may I do my best to tell others of all He has done to forgive and save them. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries