Ascension Sunday—June 1, 2014
Good leaders tend not to “order” those under them around. Rather they suggest, invite or direct. “Order” tends to be a harsh word to us, taking away our freedom of choice. Sometimes a clear and direct order is called for, in the case of a soldier, a child about to do something dangerous or a worker who is not holding up his or her share of the work load. And in the case of today’s gospel, his disciples!
A clear and direct order usually comes when something quite serious and important for the good of all comes along. In today’s Gospel, Jesus orders the eleven disciples up the mountain of Galilee, where he had begun his saving mission. The same place where in Chapter 5, he delivers the Sermon on the Mount and gives us the Beatitudes, the marching orders for a disciple. Again, we find the disciples gather on the mountain top, (where a Jew always expects a meeting with God), and receives their marching orders (ours too). The Great Commission: 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. What has he commanded—The Beatitudes! Blessed are the poor in spirit, Blessed those who mourn, who hunger and thirst for Righteousness, the meek, the pure of heart, the merciful and the peacemaker.
In the great commission, the disciples are sent out without borders—to all nations. And until the end of the age—For all time! This effectively commissions not only the first disciples, but all those throughout the ages who come to know and believe in him. JESUS CHOOSES TO COMPLETE HIS WORK OF SALVATION THROUGH US! And we have been ordered to take up the Great Commission.
Following orders that is the big question now, isn’t it!
But Jesus was obedient, and humble, the hallmark of his desire to do the Father’s will. And for this he was raised up in Glory…
Following orders, becoming humble and obedient, is also the hall mark of the disciple…and thankfully so, as we are the beneficiaries of such obedience, in our own Baptism and call to Discipleship.
Jesus’ Ascension into heaven is not a reward for what he did on earth. Jesus’ Ascension is a return to his rightful place at the right hand of the Father! It is our rightful place as one chosen and called and adopted as sons and daughters of God!
Jesus’ Ascension, his return to the right hand of God, is also a fulfillment of a promise to sustain us, to not leave us orphaned, but the give of the Holy Spirit. Jesus’ presence will be sustained in us by the gift and presence of the Holy Spirit.
By the gift of the Holy Spirit, we are empowered by God’s own authority to continue and fulfill the mission of Jesus Christ, the salvation of the world and all in it! Jesus entrusts the mission to us!
Are you saved! Is a question we get asked a lot by our Evangelical Brothers and Sisters. Rather than get defensive next time we are asked, the answer is simple. By the election and adoption of God into the family of Jesus, I am saved. Are you?
We are saved, because we are chosen and commissioned—Ordered if you will, into the work and mission of Jesus Christ!
Go out into the World and Save a Soul for Christ, but do it with convection and integrity, knowing it is Jesus who saves and calls. AMEN!