As today is Ascension Day, I’m reminded that I was meant to post about those Tom Wright lectures. Ah. Time has hurtled away from me recently, and everything is getting squeezed in (and sometimes out). What’s the link? Wright made a point about the ascension that I found thought provoking. He said that often we shrink the idea merely to ‘Jesus going back to heaven’. It implies a sense of absence. But, he said, Jesus’ ascension was about him taking his rightful place as king.
Whatever you may think about this, do you think it’s true? That we can fall into the trap of making ‘Ascension Day’ about when Jesus ‘went back to heaven’ in the sense of leaving rather than taking up his rightful position as King?
Is it a very human thing, I wonder, when someone ‘leaves’ us, to think not about where they are going and why – but the fact they will be absent from us? Do we think of Jesus as absenting himself from us, rather than ‘coming’ in a new way, whereby, as Wright puts it, heaven and earth are joined for ever? And of course Jesus’ ascension preceded the pouring out of the Holy Spirit – indeed he himself said his ‘going away’ was necessary in order for this to happen. Do we think of the ascension merely as Jesus going up and away, rather than establishing his ‘sovereign rule’ and pouring out the Spirit (which is hardly an absence)?
|Rembrandt – The Ascension|