I love the words of the angels to the disciples after Jesus ascended into heaven. After instructing them to remain together in Jerusalem and wait for the promised Holy Spirit, Jesus simply arose from the earth and disappeared into a cloud. From out of nowhere, two angels suddenly stood beside the disciples, saying,
“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:11)
Can’t you just picture the awestruck disciples standing there staring up into the sky?
I don’t know about you, but there have been times I have found myself staring up into the sky, looking at the clouds and wondering what it will be like to see Jesus coming again. Because the resurrection wasn’t the end of the story.
After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared to the disciples several times over a period of forty days before being taken up into heaven (Acts 1:3). At one point, He even appeared to a gathering of five hundred followers, many of whom were still alive to testify at the time Paul wrote his first letter to the Corinthians (1Cor. 15:6). Eyewitnesses to the resurrected Jesus were plentiful, despite the fact that the Roman soldiers appointed to guard His tomb were paid to spread the lie that His body had been stolen away (Matt. 27:62-66, 28:11-15).
During those forty days after His resurrection, Jesus walked with His followers, talked with them, and even ate with them (Luke 24:13-27, 41-42). The disciples saw Him and touched the wounds in His hands and His feet (Luke 24:36-42, John 20:19-20). He was–and is–truly alive.
Then, He ascended into heaven, and now we do not see Him. He sits in heaven at the Father’s right hand and intercedes on our behalf (Rom. 8:34). He sits because His work is done (Heb. 10:11-14). He is at rest; at least for now, until it is time for Him to return with the clouds in just the same way the disciples saw Him go into heaven.
And so, we wait for the day when we will see Him face to face.
Jesus is our Savior. That is, through His death and resurrection He has provided the way for us to gain eternal life. But eternal life is about much more than going to heaven when we die.
We may not see Him in the flesh, but through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, we are connected with Jesus spirit-to-spirit. He offers us friendship, companionship, grace to help us and truth to guide us from day to day. He offers forgiveness and healing, wisdom and discernment, and promises to be our Good Shepherd if we will be His sheep (John 10:11-15). He calls us by name (John 10:2-4). He calls us His friends (John 15:12-15).
Someday, we will see Him face to face. Someday, all the earth will see Him come again with the clouds in His glory (Matt. 24:30, Rev. 1:7). But that is a story for another day.
From the Series: Easter