What was so good about Ascension Day?
By Myrtle Virginia Thompson
Thursday, May 30, was Ascension Day, celebrated by few churches today, but a day of memory in the life of Jesus and His disciples.
It was 40 days after the Resurrection. They were standing together on the mount when a cloud overshadowed Jesus and He returned to “the glory He had with the Father before the world was.” The great high priest and intercessor for Adam’s helpless race came out of eternity and was returning. His death completed the work given Him to do. He took His place by the Father’s right hand, a scene only Heaven could witness, doubtless a glorious “Welcome Home, Jesus!”
The same celestial host would have been on the hillside in Bethlehem 33 years earlier, announcing His birth. They saw John baptize Him in the Jordan River to “fulfill all righteousness.” Centuries earlier the Prophet Isaiah had a vision in which he saw the Lord in Heaven, sitting on His throne. Seraphim were calling out one to another “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts!” Their occupation was to communicate from Heaven to earth. Isaiah fell down, crying out “Woe is me … I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell amidst people of unclean lips.”
This was the Eternal God Who came to live on the very earth He had created (Colossians 1) and found no place to lay His head. He willingly stripped off those royal robes and lived on earth as a homeless working man. He returned to Heaven but promised us His Holy Spirit would live in all who believe His message.
Friday afternoon, May 31, while wrapping up my thoughts about Ascension Day my daughter came asking if I had heard the news. I had not. She turned on the TV. The reporter was saying, “We have heard of these things happening in other places but not here.” It was the Virginia Beach mass murder story. The people were innocent victims.
My writing was put on hold. There was little information, only the questions who and why, people trying to understand these evil acts. We are blessed but so naive. Our protected lives cannot endure indiscriminate killings, but the “why” question of murders has been asked and researched since Cain killed his brother in Genesis 3. The most outstanding and horrific thing, still remembered even more so, is the brutal mob beating of another innocent man, Jesus.
Bible history tells us why humans do what they do. We are influenced by the same being which influenced Adam and Eve, back in the beginning of all human creation. God had spoken plainly to them. They disobeyed. The consequences of their disobedience is embedded in our DNA, their sin endemic for all generations. The Prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?” Millions have discovered “nice people” can be influenced by evil and commit despicable acts.
I return to the question, “What was so good about Ascension Day? Just this: Jesus is alive and can strengthen us when we are tempted to disregard human life and do evil. The tragedy is how few believe God can change lives, but Jesus said “Search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life and they testify of Me” (but) “you will not come to me that you may have eternal life.” (John 5:39,40) Those who do come testify how trusting Jesus Christ and His Words gave them a new life and victory over sin they had committed or had thought about committing.
Virginia Beach will make some kind of recovery. The memory will remain and resurface from time to time, but Jesus offers the mental and emotional healing we all need. Peter reminds us “Casting all our care upon Him” will help to heal the wounds and bring us the needed relief (I Peter 5:7).
Myrtle V. Thompson, 91, is a retired educator, Bible teacher and missionary. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.