SHOUTING FOR JOY
How much shouting do you do during the course of an average week? It might be more than you realize or care to admit. If you work in a shop where there’s a lot of machinery running and all your co-workers are wearing ear plugs, of course, it can’t be helped. You practically need to shout just to communicate. Every parent understands the need to shout at times. There seems to be a certain decibel level that one’s voice must reach before the children pay full attention and take your words seriously.
On the 24th of this month, how many of you will be shouting at the top of your lungs? Not in frustration or anger, but with pure, absolute joy? Though vastly underrated and largely ignored, the festival of Jesus’ Ascension should rightly move every Christian to shout “with the voice of triumph.” In the words of the Psalmist: “God has gone up with a shout” (Ps. 47:5).
A Heavenly Celebration . . .
It is doubtful that the first disciples did much shouting as Jesus ascended back to heaven. Frozen in their minds was the scene of their beloved Savior, hands lifted up, rising into the air until a cloud received Him from sight. Angels appeared. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “Why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
If anything, there was silence. A flood of memories washed over them. For three years Jesus had been with them. They had heard His Word and seen His power. They had witnessed His fulfilling all Old Testament prophecies. Fresh in their minds was His brutal death and powerful resurrection. Ahead of them stretched a course which Jesus Himself established: “Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16:15).
And yet Scripture says, “God has gone up with a shout.” How so?
Picture for a moment what is not visible from the Mount of Olives or from any other spot on this earth. Think of the incredible reception that awaited Him. All of heaven must have erupted with shouts of joy when Jesus returned to His heavenly throne. Think of all the people who died with a forward-looking faith that trusted in God’s promise of sending a Savior. Now they formed a welcoming committee, joyfully receiving Him as the Fulfiller of all that God had said. Jesus appeared bearing the scars of battle in hands and feet, crowned with the victory that belongs to all who trust in Him!
. . . With An Earthly Meaning
Too seldom are the moments we feel like shouting for joy in this earthly life. Because of sin this life is filled with struggle and monotony and hardship. Because our eyes are trained on the things around us, we too seldom gaze upward to the glorious celebration that is coming. We often forget that Jesus’ Ascension is filled with meaning for our life on earth.
Too often things seem to happen by accident. But even now Jesus is throned high above and rules all things for the sake of His elect. He is powerfully at work in your life, as He is in mine.
Too often the devil accuses and our consciences haunt us with sins from the past. But even now Jesus is interceding for us at the Father’s throne. With Him there Paul asks, “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect?” (Rom. 8:33)
Too often we stand helplessly by as fellow Christians lose the battle against disease and age. But even now, when all looks hopeless, Jesus is preparing a place for them. By faith in Jesus every Christian will one day be added to heaven’s great chorus where the shouts of joy never end!
–Pastor James Albrecht