Belfast Telegraph

Thought for the Weekend: Pause and think of Jesus' ascension

By Canon Walter Lewis

Thursday of this week was Ascension Thursday. In the Christian Church around the world, young and old celebrated the ascension of Jesus into heaven. But why is there an Ascension Day?

For the answer, we need to go back to the origin, life and ministry of Jesus. Jesus was with his father in heaven before his incarnation. He became man and was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth. When he was about 30 he left his home village for an itinerant ministry in Israel, proclaiming God's kingdom in his teachings, healings and his meetings with people.

Many were profoundly touched by his message of justice, hope and love, and became his followers: a new day dawned for them. Their lives took on new meaning with unimagined hope and substance. The encounter with Jesus transformed their lives.

Jesus completed the work entrusted to him by his father. He was crucified by his enemies and died.

Because of his faithfulness to his father's will, he was raised from death to life. Risen from the dead, he told his disciples that he must soon return to his father in heaven.

Things had come full circle. Jesus came from the father to do his will. That work complete, Jesus now returned to the father. And so, at ascension, we celebrate Jesus – ascended to God's right hand in glory.

We also remember other things. Today, Jesus is not physically walking the earth. But, such is his love for us that he intercedes for you and me in heaven. He prays to the Father for us and is our advocate before the father.

Jesus' love for mankind is again revealed in his ascension when he told his disciples that, yes, he was going away from them to the father. But, his reason for doing so was to prepare a place in heaven for them.

And not alone that: he would come back and take them to be with him where he is.

This weekend we may be enjoying warmer days and looking forward to summer. We may be doing the shopping, working at home, on holidays, relaxing, etc – attending to all the necessary practical things. But, alongside this we may pause, and think about Jesus, and his ascension into heaven. All this happened for one simple reason – his profound love for you and me.

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