“While He blessed them …. He was parted from them”
When the Lord of the Church has called one of His believers home to Himself, and it remains for the faithful to commit the mortal remains to the ground, it happens sometimes that the survivors gather first in the cemetery. There they bury the body of their loved one, and then all go into the church for the funeral service.
How similar to this ancient custom was the first Ascension Day! First the disciples took leave of their Lord, or rather He took leave of them, and then they went back and were continually in the temple worshiping, blessing God.
Does that seem strange? It surely had not been the disciples’ way forty-three days earlier, when Jesus left them by dying on the cross. That time they had returned from Calvary to cower fearfully behind closed doors. But this time, after losing their best friend, they are in the temple, blessing God continually!
Why such joy? They could return to Jerusalem with such joy because Jesus had blessed them. Perhaps we might think, “If I could only have that blessing, then I could be full of joy too, even when I am alone!”
But what sort of a blessing was it? We don’t have the words of that Ascension Day blessing, but we do have many other blessings of the Lord recorded throughout the New Testament. There Jesus says, through the apostles, for example:
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Rom. 1:7)
“Mercy unto you, and peace, and love be multiplied.” (Jude 2)
The Content of Jesus’ Blessing
Grace…Mercy…Peace…Love — one of these is a part of practically every blessing spoken in the New Testament, and all of these are the result of the Savior’s work. It was the unearned GRACE or favor of God that was shown in sending His only Son to die for us. It was MERCY that saw our needs and moved to help, and still does, from day to day, for Jesus’ sake. It was in the blood of Christ that we were cleansed from sin and hostility with God was ended: PEACE. And hereby know we the LOVE of God, that He sent His only Son into the world, that we might live through Him.
Grace, mercy, peace, and love — surely this was also the content of Jesus’ blessing on that day. Paul wrote to the Romans: “Now the God of peace be WITH YOU all.” Jesus said: “Lo, I am WITH YOU alway, even unto the end of the world.”
The disciples could return to Jerusalem without a visible Jesus, but with great joy, because even as Jesus had been parted from them, He had raised His hand in blessing. He could still bless them even when parted from them! We often trust our own eyes to tell us whether or not Christ is with us and able to bless us, don’t we? But if we stand with the disciples on Ascension Day and see Jesus parted from u, but never stopping His blessing of us, then we too will be able to return to our tasks with great joy and comfort.
The disciples had seen that not even the death and burial of their dear Lord had stood in the way of His blessing them with more than they were able to ask or think. They had seen, and so have we through their testimony, that “neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).
The disciples could return to a doomed Jerusalem with great joy because they know, and so do we, that though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us…..
He's by our side upon the plain With His good gifts and Spirit. And take they our life, Goods, fame, child, and wife, Let these all be gone, They yet have nothing won; The Kingdom ours remaineth!
— Pastor Paul Schaller