Commentary on the Gospel of
Between Jesus’ absence and the Spirit’s presence – Ascension Sunday
Acts 1:1-11; Ephesians 1:17-23; Luke 24:46-53
So, we are left alone, aren’t we? Jesus went back to heaven. No matter how intensely we look up into the sky, we cannot see him. We are told that one day He will come back (Acts 1:11). Meantime, we should wait ‘a few days’ for the promised Spirit of God (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:5.8). ‘A few days’ can be a long period of time when the world is falling apart; ‘a few days’ can be a long period of time, when the One in whom we place our hope is suddenly hidden from our sight by a cloud.
The departure of Jesus into heaven was never meant to make us feel lonely. “It is for your good that I am going away” (John 16:7). It was meant to prepare us for a different mode of Jesus’ presence. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20, KJV); “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23, KJV); “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
Jesus is going to be present in our midst in every place and in every situation of our lives; He is going to abide in our hearts; each one of us is going to become a living temple of God’s presence. But it does not happen overnight and it is not of our own making. Jesus spoke about ‘few days’ and about ‘the promise of His Father’. We need to wait and ask. Jesus promised that if we ask our heavenly Father, He will give us the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13). We also need to believe that Jesus is true to His promise: “ ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, . . ., streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this he meant the Spirit whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (John 7:38-39).
A devoted Buddhist was constantly seeing during his prayer a man with a crown. The moment he closed his eyes and entered into a deep meditation, the vision of that man emerged and presented itself to his ‘inner eyes’. The vision was ‘pursuing’ him for months till one day he visited a Catholic family and to his surprise he saw an image of Christ the King hanging on the wall. “This is the man, I always see in my meditation” – he exclaimed – “who is he?” The family introduced him to Jesus and Christian faith. It did not take long for him to make a decision of becoming a Christian.
“In a few days you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 1:5). For some of us, these few days may take weeks, months, or even years. There are usually filled with doubts, longings, and deep questions about God and meaning of life. But it was never meant to last for ever. In this period of time between Jesus’ ascension and the Pentecost we should be able to realise how truly we miss Jesus and that without Him our lives cannot bear fruits (John 15:5). This realisation should stir in our hearts a deep longing for His presence expressed in this prayer:
O, Lord Jesus! Send us the promise of Your Father. Baptise us with the Holy Spirit; cloth us with the power from above. May the Holy Spirit come upon us, so we can sense your presence among us and become your witnesses to ends of the earth. Amen.