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Acts 1:1-11, The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God. Gathering them together, He commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, “Which,” He said, “you heard of from Me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” So, when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

Luke gave us a dramatic and humbling companion to the Gospel he previously penned. He states that Jesus had shown Himself to be alive through “many convincing proofs.” (vs. 3) He spoke of the kingdom for forty days previous to this moment. Now, His disciples have gathered at the Mount of Olives.

At this moment Jesus and His disciples were both standing (presumably) on the hillside that day. Every word from the mouth of God was being savored by a spiritually hungry crowd. Jesus had already made a special promise as to their comfort – The Holy Spirit. (John 14:15-17) What must it have been like as He began rising up to the sky? What thoughts were careening through the minds of believers as their Savior was leaving them there? It must have been an incredible sight to see Jesus literally leaving the ground, but more importantly leaving their presence.

What about the witnesses? What speechless thoughts would the small army of God have while watching this whole circumstance transpire? “What will we do now, without Jesus?” It is always interesting to experience the transition from training to application. The Body is being born to a new level of service. Now we live what we have learned, somewhat outside the safety net of the “physical” presence of the Christ. This is where life begins. We know that Jesus is with us through faith. We also know we have to navigate the many traps and obstacles laid out for us by Satan.

I fault no one who witnessed this event in their respective emotions. Fear, broken heartedness, and simple discouragement. But the relationship with Jesus and the mission requirements were never to simply make His followers observers; they were expected to be doers. (James 1:22) Christian faith is not a spectator sport. As to seeing Jesus physically versus knowing Him only through the eyes of faith Jesus would respond to Thomas, John 20:29, Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Even John the Baptist was uncertain at one point as to Jesus. He would ask the very question of Christ, as John would wait for the end of his life to come, “Are you the one?” (John 7:11-35)

On this hillside, on this day, there were no doubts, just the questions of direction and purpose for those who would remain as they watched Jesus ascend to go back to the Father. I am sure that Jesus would want this moment to be as painless as possible for His beloved children. Sometimes it is through the unknown events of life, and the faithful grip of a disciple, that we find the direction we seek. Hold on to the Word and promises of our Savior! Always remember that whether we feel it or not, He always resides close to every one of us. (Matthew 28:20)