10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
The opening lines of the book of Acts teach us something very important about how to live our lives here on Earth. Jesus had just told the apostles that they were to “receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). And then he was gone ascended into Heaven, just as miraculously as he came.
What a disappointing blow it must have been for them. This enchanting, irresistible encounter with the real person of Jesus. For 3 years in ministry together, these men had eaten, slept, traveled, preached, and spent enormous amounts of time together in community. They had probably shared, argued, and joked around with Jesus, who is God — and like any human being, they probably didn’t appreciate any of it until this very moment as they stood staring up into the clouds.
It doesn’t say how long they were standing there looking hard into the spot where they last saw Jesus disappear,. It might be that the 2 men were sent there to gently nudge them down to reality before they began to dwell too hard on the sorrow and confusion of his leaving. Where would the rest of us be if those apostles had given into despair and refused to return to the pressing matters of reality and selfishly hoarded the gospel?
I confess that I do this all the time. I am so focused on my own discomfort and sorrows that I spend most of my time staring up into space after Jesus, that I forget that there are people all around me to be ministered to. Kind words to be said, gentle forgiveness to be given, serving to be done. Reality.
Thank you Jesus for granting us the power of the Holy Spirit when we first believed. We believe that the Spirit that lives inside us is the same that brought you to life again. Because we have this wonderful power, we pray in your will that we would not refuse to use it intentionally and constantly. Not that we ourselves are powerful but that you are powerful, and are able to work out any miracles you want.