Today is the feast of the Ascension which is both great and exciting on one hand and has some trepidation on the other for the Apostles. On the exciting side, Jesus speaks of the mission and of power on high. However, there is this nervousness, that Jesus won’t be beside them the way he has been with them for more than 3 and half years – in their very presence.
I am reminded of the Golden Eagle – The Golden eagle is the greatest and fiercest of the birds of prey, yet one of the most sensitive and vigorous in its nurture of the young eagle. When the eagle is due to fly the mother pushes it out of the nest which is usually on a high outcrop or way above the trees in the canopy in the northern hemisphere.
The bird flounders for a small time in the air – falling – twisting – turning but the wind suddenly picks up under its wings and soon it soars. One day it will fly away from the nest and never return.
I love this analogy on many levels – not the least the “wind of the Holy Spirit” – beneath our wings.
So it was for the apostles. Jesus was in one sense “kicking them out of the nest” and on the other ensuring that they will fly when the wind of the Holy Spirit fills them – that they will, have all they need to “soar” to fulfill mission, to build the church, the body of Christ as we know it today.
Without the act of Jesus leaving – the Apostles could never know the incredible experience and ministry uptake of the growing body of believers that they will become a part of.
So what does all this mean for the Apostles and what does it mean for us. You see, Jesus salvation for them is now almost complete in all of the same ways it is for us, except for the physical receiving, the baptism of the Holy Spirit if you will, in their hearts which for them will occur in a few days’ time at Pentecost.
They are on the cusp of change, a change that they cannot fully imagine – but there is excitement because they have been taught, they’ve been shown and they have had a fore taste of the works to be completed in power and in Authority. Much like the baby Eagle receiving all that is necessary for soaring above the clouds and living its life as the Golden Eagle.
Remembering the Gospel from last week about doing even greater works than I. The Apostles are becoming a New Testament people “just as we are a New Testament people – we are all on a great commission that brings us to eternal life with God our Father in heaven.