Do you ever wonder to yourself what it would have been like to be with Jesus when He was here on earth? Can you imagine what it would have been like to be one of His disciples? To be there when all those things that we read about were actually taking place?
Suppose it was you who were with him in a synagogue when he healed the man with the withered hand, or when Jairus came to Him and begged Him to heal his daughter. Imagine being there when Jesus fed the crowds or walked on the water. Then again imagine it was you in the garden when Jesus had asked you to watch and pray with Him and instead you’d fallen asleep. Yet surely we wouldn’t have been as fickle as the disciples were, would we?
If it seems like a privilege to be with Jesus during His ministry, imagine what it would have been like to be with him during those 40 Days after He rose again. Imagine being there when He explained why the Messiah had to suffer and die; to be there when Jesus reminded them of things that He had done and the meaning behind them. Imagine being there, sharing life with Him knowing that He had come back from the dead; that everything was alright now; that the nightmare was over because you had Jesus back.
And yet the disciples were still confused about what was to come. They were still anticipating where all of this was leading. Jesus had to explain to them that this was not a permanent state of affairs. They wouldn’t always have Him physically there with them. He was about to ascend into heaven from whence He had come. In fact He needed to return there because His plan was to release the Holy Spirit to be with them. His presence with them would be different from anything that they had expected.
He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: ‘Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptised with water, but in a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit.’ (Acts 1:3-5)
These are the days of waiting. We remember the Ascension on Ascension Day which this year is the 14th May; and Pentecost on 24th May, Whit Sunday.
We often think that it must have been so easy for the disciples because they were actually there with Jesus but in fact it is so much easier for us because we know how the story ends. We stand on the shoulders of those first disciples who experienced everything for the first time. When they are confused we have the luxury of knowing what Jesus was doing. That He had to die on the cross to pay for the sin of the world. That He would rise again from the dead. That He would send His Holy Spirit on Pentecost and that the power and presence of the Spirit in the lives of Jesus’ followers would transform everything. We know these things, not just because we have read the book, but because we have experienced them for ourselves.
So this year let us give thanks again for God’s indescribable gift to us and never take for granted His presence with us as He empowers us to serve Him. Instead let us reach out to Him again and embrace His presence in us to become all He has called us to be and to do all that He has called us to do.
Yours in Christ