From the Pulpit: May 28, 2017

May 28, 2017                                               Ascension of the Lord

Introduction

A little over 40 days ago we celebrated the great feast of Easter. And now today the church remembers Jesus’ ascension into heaven.

Ascension

Jesus gathers his disciples on a hill outside of Jerusalem

  • The disciples must’ve wondered why they were there and what Jesus had in mind.
  • As Jesus looks at the disciples gathered around him, he must’ve realized how difficult it would be for them as he sends them out into the world.
  • No doubt, Jesus would’ve realize that this would be the last time they would be together and this would be the last time that they would see him.
  • As Jesus looked at the disciples he would’ve known that every one of them would eventually give his life as a martyr in different parts of the world.
  • The only exception would be Saint John who would die a natural death on the island of Patmos.

Last words–mission

Jesus his final words to his disciples would be important. Before departing he left them instructions to do three things:

FIRST he tells them to go out into all the world and make disciples of all peoples and of all nations.

  • They were to take the good news of the gospel to all the corners of the world.
  • If you stop and think about it, from those 11 who were gathered there, all of us have received the message of the Gospel.
  • They took that good news to all of the corners of the world.
  • Thomas took the gospel to India.
  • Andrew took the gospel to Greece
  • Peter took the gospel to Antioch and Rome.
  • Mark took the gospel to Egypt
  • Others to Syria, turkey, and to Greece.

They gave their life for the gospel and witnessed to the power of the resurrection.

SECOND Jesus tells them that as they make disciples that they are to baptize.

  • Those words of baptism have been used for the last 20 centuries.
  • Jesus says, “go out to all of the world and baptized in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit”
  • In other words, he was telling his disciples that as they make disciples themselves, they are to baptize.
  • In that baptism they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

FINALLY, he tells them that they are to go out and to teach everything that Jesus has told them.

  • They will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. That Holy Spirit will remind them of everything that Jesus said.
  • That Gospel has the power to change lives and ultimately to change the entire World.
  • Jesus entrusted them with this message and Mission.
  • However, he reminds them that they will never be alone in this endeavor because he will remain with them until the end of time

THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD

With those words, you can imagine that a dense cloud or something like a fog began to encompass them.

  • As the cloud dissipated, Jesus disappeared from their sight.
  • No doubt, the disciples must’ve been somewhat baffled by the entire event.
  • Little do they realize that Jesus was gone from them in a physical way and they would not see him until they closed their eyes in death.
  • Luke tells us in the Acts of the Apostles that the disciples were so mesmerized that they continued to gaze upward.
  • So much so that an angel came and told them, “why do you stand facing up to heaven. This Lord Jesus will return one day in the same way that you saw him leave.

I am with you always.

Jesus makes a promise not only to his disciples, but to his disciples of every age. At the same time, he has given us a mission.

  1. His disciples are to go out and make other disciples.
  • Yes, that mission was given to the disciples of the first century. However, that is our mission as well.
  • How do you make disciples?
  • Perhaps the starting point is the gift of God’s Holy Spirit,
  • Each of us has received the gift of the spirit.
  • The starting point for discipleship is holiness of life.
  • If you look at the disciples of the first and second century the holiness of their life is what would draw people to the message of the Gospel.
  • Their lives stood in stark contrast to the morality of the age.
  • People found something compelling in the way they lived.
  • It’s not so different from our time. The holiness of our lives will draw people to Jesus.
  • They will want to follow him because of us. They will see in us a new way of doing things. They will see in us a new life.

Second of all, like the disciples of the first and second century, we just need to tell people about Jesus and what God has done in our lives.

  • People are looking for something to give meaning to their life. When we tell them about Jesus and the way we live, there is always something that will draw people’s hearts.
  • Saint Augustine tells us that our hearts are restless until they rest in the hands of God.
  • Jesus told his disciples’ that they would be the instruments of a drawing of the world to the heart of the Father.
  1. The second thing we must remember is that Jesus has promised to be with us always until the end of the world.
  • Sometimes life gets difficult and problems arise.
  • It’s good to remember that Jesus promised to be with us always. He walks with us side-by-side at all the moments of our life.
  • He is there in our joys and in our sorrows.
  • He has not abandoned us, but he’s with us in a totally new, yet personal way.

Conclusion

Today we celebrate the ascension of the Lord into heaven.

  • Jesus reminds us that as his disciples we are called to go out and make disciples.
  • The message of the gospel is compelling.
  • We are the chosen vessels of his gospel.
  • We must never forget that Jesus has promised to be with us until the end of the world. Let’s not ever forget that!