44Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” 45Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, 46and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, 47and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48You are witnesses of these things. 49And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. 51While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. 52And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; 53and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
What I am Learning:
In Daniel 7 there is a vision of the truly human one coming in the clouds from the heavens – the throne of the Ancient One. The truly human one (son of man) does away with domination and submission cultures and the whole people of God become human together – they will bring life-giving order to the world.
In this passage Luke writes of Jesus ascending to heaven – the throne room of the Ancient One. Luke is saying that Jesus is the truly human one and the disciple community is now made fully human and together they will bring life-giving order to the world.
Before he went, he taught them and opened their minds to understand the scriptures – that the messiah is to suffer, die and rise. Jesus taught that this is the way God works in the world – not through overwhelming force or messages written in the stars. God is not the bully-in-chief. God works in the world by suffering with and for the vulnerable. This is God’s character.
Jesus then told them that they were witnesses of these things – of this vision of the character of God’s saving activity in the world. (Remember that the word “saving” means “healing.”) To be a witness is to take a public stance about something. In this case it means to take a public stance about the true nature of the universe and the Ancient One that created it. This is the job the disciples were given to do.
Then he blessed them. As he is blessing them he is taken to heaven. He did not stop blessing them. The text seems to say that Jesus never did stop blessing them.
Jesus continues to bless us from the throne of the Ancient One who we have come to know in Jesus. We have often imagined that God is all about power and that we can be like God when we exercise power over others and that we are far from God when we are powerless. Jesus has shown us that the kind of power that God gives is a power with others.
No longer do we need to live our inner lives by the spirituality of a dog-eat-dog world. No longer do we need to participate in economic or social competition that leaves some starving and the rest of us starved for meaning and community.
With the vision and blessing of Jesus, we can join the truly human ones in bringing life-giving order to a world made chaotic by the spirituality and economy of domination.
With the vision and blessing of Jesus, we can worship in the temple and give public witness to God’s vision for the world.