Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.
The other week one of my fellow Pastors asked me if I was doing anything special for ascension day, I showed my ignorance and made out as if I would be preaching a sermon, thinking that ascension day would fall on a Sunday. He clarified his position saying that his church wasn't doing anything and that we probably should, as a church, have a bigger emphasise on the ascension of our Lord.
I used my simple maths and realised that 40 days after Easter Sunday could not possibly be another Sunday; but his words gave me my topic. Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ promised his twelve disciples that they would receive power when the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they would be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. and then, as they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud took him from their sight.
Just as we say in the creed, and we say it in the creed because it is here in the bible, Jesus the son of God ascended into heaven and as we read later in acts (10:42) ascended to judge the living and the dead.
Jesus has ascended into heaven and is sitting at the right hand of the Father, but in a special way though he is in heaven he can be in all places at all times. He is no longer humbled to live as we live but has reclaimed his all powerful nature that he had set aside. Jesus has ascended into heaven but is with us always to the very end of the age. Now this is true and wonderful news, but it is not the main drive of the text today rather it is saying something that I had forgotten. I know that Jesus had ascended but I had forgotten that, Jesus is coming back.
Now I know that Jesus will return and I have confidence in his words, but in my daily life I have forgotten that Jesus will return to earth in the same way the disciples saw him leave. I had taken it for granted that it has been two thousand years since he promised to return and that surely it would be another few hundred more. I thought that surely I will die and be raised to eternal life before Jesus comes again.
How my life will change if I think on this more regularly I have no idea, But I do know that God's word is powerful and meditating on his word brings great joy and wisdom.
This life here is only temporary, there is a sense of urgency to our lives here on earth, this is our only chance to tell other people about the love that Jesus Christ has for them. Our life here on earth is our time to tell others about the wondrous forgiveness of sins that is ours through the washing of baptism and the body and blood of Christ.
This is our time, by our words and actions to live the Christian life in the presence of all people, living holy lives, and humbling ourselves, seeking forgiveness when we fail. Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven, but he is coming back.
It will be like a thief in the night, and God in his wisdom has kept the day and the time from us, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority." We do not know when Jesus will return but we know that he will.
Now this return is not something that we should be fearful of, we have been set free from sin and guilt, in our judgment we will not be standing on the works that we have done, but by what God has done in us. We are baptised, washed and made children of God, he has put his seal on us and forgiven all our sins. We do not rely on our own works but in the perfect sacrifice of Jesus on our behalf. We have already been judged, judged guilty by our works and set free by Christ's. We do not fear this second coming of Jesus.
Jesus will return, and for us here who have called and are calling on his name, to all baptised Christians, Jesus will come back in grace and love. We have no idea when this will happen. and so as fellow Christians and for myself I urge you to live out your lives as godly sacrifices to God, waiting for the coming again of his son, not because you have to, but because you can.
Jesus is coming back, and at that time we will no longer be able to work, and while our works mean nothing for our salvation, they are still pleasing to God and beneficial for our lives and those around us. I urge you to have in the back of your mind, Jesus could come back this afternoon, and he would be happy to hear that I worked faithfully at my job today.
I urge you as forgiven Christians to ponder Christ's return and the eternal blessings that will become reality on that day. I urge you, with patience and wisdom, to live your lives as examples of Christ, so that people see the love you have for others and seek Christ because of his work in you. I urge you to love your family and your friends, enjoying God's good creation, knocking back a beverage as you watch the sunset over a hard day's work in the field, office or home. I urge you, when you are suffering to remember that this pain will end, Christ will return and put an end to pain and suffering. I urge you to enjoy God's blessings that come through hearing his word and receiving his sacraments enjoying also the peace that God gives and the rest that he calls us all to take for his glory and our benefit.
Jesus will return, and through baptism and his Holy meal, he has made you ready. He will return in glory to take all God's children, those living and those who have died, take us all back with him, to our final peaceful heavenly home.
The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and mind in Christ Jesus amen.