Those who had gathered together asked Jesus, “Lord, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now?”
Jesus replied, “It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
After Jesus said these things, as they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going away and as they were staring toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood next to them. They said, “Galileans, why are you standing here, looking toward heaven?” – Acts 1:6-11
So the friends of Jesus, who had been “listening” to his teachings for three years, and who were witnesses to his resurrection, gathered with the Master one more time.
They ate a meal together and – as if Jesus had not said a word about it before – they asked:
- “So is it now, is it today?
- Are you going to chase the Romans out of Israel now?
- Are you going to make everything right and do things the way we expected now?
- This seems to be taking forever!
- Are we almost there yet?”
And Jesus shakes his head, probably face-palms, looks over the group of puzzled followers, men and women both, and he lays out the plan one more time. “It’s all you,” he said. “You are going to be my witnesses; you are going to be the ones to tell the story; it’s your job now to invite others to join us. I’m sending the Holy Spirit so you won’t be alone, and you’re going to be powerfully equipped. But this is your responsibility now, your opportunity.”
And Jesus disappears, like he has been lifted into eternity through a portal in the sky. Just like that, Jesus is gone.
And his friends? They just stand there staring after him with their mouths hanging open. Gawking. Frozen in place. Immobilized. Rooted to the spot.
This sets up one of my favorite “one-liners” in the New Testament. “What are you looking at?”
I always get a visual in my mind of someone on a busy street, looking up, staring intently into space. Before you know it ten, fifteen, twenty or more passers by are standing there too, looking up at absolutely nothing.
It is the week after Easter Sunday. Jesus has told us what to do. We have the promise of the Holy Spirit and the comfort of, “I will be with you always.” So why are we still just standing around and looking?
Remember Rebekah’s message from Easter? “Go and meet Jesus in Galilee.” In that sense, we are all Galileans:
“Galileans, why are you standing here, looking toward heaven?” – Acts 1:6-11
It really is a good question – DEREK