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Ascension Day – May 26, 2022

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Ascension Day – May 26, 2022

Jesus ascends to the presence of God. He ascends but not before he’s performed a vital task. He rescinds his earlier command, “Follow me!” for they cannot follow him; he’s going to the presence of God in Heaven. Rather than them continuing in discipleship mode, Jesus shifts their activity from “following” to “going.” How far are they to go? Jesus sends them to “all nations” (vs. 47). What are they to do on their way to all the nations? They are to preach repentance and the forgiveness of sins (vs. 47). Jesus transforms his disciples (the ones who follow) into his apostles (the ones sent out). This account in Luke is but one of the sending accounts provided: one in each of the gospels and one in the book of Acts (Mt. 28:16-20; Mk. 16:14-18; Lk. 24:44-53; Jn. 20: 19-23; Acts 1:6-11). 

These sending stories have several features in common. First, they’re not very complimentary to the disciples. It’s very evident that they are far from perfect and quite flawed. Here in the Lucan account, they lack understanding and comprehension of the Scriptures. Only after Jesus opens their minds do they understand (vs. 45). They have a definite task: bear witness to Jesus through preaching, especially preaching repentance and the forgiveness of sins (vs. 47). Note that none of the sending stories carry any command that tells the newly made apostles to build a church, worship in a particular way, or establish a certain kind of community. All the sending stories include some sort of reference to the Holy Spirit. Here, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit promise and power: the promise of the Father and power from on high (vs. 49).

All the “following after Jesus” that discipleship calls us into is not an end in itself. The following after mainly serves as preparation for the “being sent out.” Discipleship first, apostleship second. They are the rhythm of the Christian: first called into discipleship, into worship, into receiving the gifts of Christ (the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation). Then sent out into the world bearing witness to Jesus Christ, preaching repentance, and the forgiveness of sins.

Table Talk: Discuss the change of designation: disciple to apostle.
Pray: Heavenly Father grant me to hear both your calling and your sending. Amen

Luke 24:44-53 English Standard Version

44 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things. 49 And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

50 And he led them out as far as Bethany and lifting up his hands he blessed them. 51 While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple blessing God.