Today's Collect from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:
O God, the King of glory, who hast exalted thine only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph unto thy kingdom in heaven; We beseech thee, leave us not comfortless; but send to us thine Holy Ghost to comfort us, and exalt us unto the same place whither our Saviour Christ is gone before, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
As we discussed the 20th chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel in Sunday School at Lake Murray this morning, I mentioned the verses from Ascension Day as a parallel to what Bill was teaching about how the disciples, as they squabbled amongst themselves as to who would sit at the right and left of the throne of Jesus, didn't comprehend that Jesus was not to be an earthly Messiah. (At least not until His Second Coming, but He explains that much later....) The disciples were looking for someone who would free Israel from the rule of Rome, and instead they heard Jesus' parables about "the kingdom of heaven," and they just couldn't wrap their brains around what He was trying to teach them about His Kingdom. In Acts 1, the reading for Ascension Day, the disciples were gathered together with Jesus just before He ascended to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father, and they asked, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Even as Jesus was being lifted in the cloud, they were STILL looking for an earthly kingdom, an earthly Messiah, one who would free them from political oppression. What they got, but didn't necessarily understand, was a Messiah who freed them from their own sin as well as from original sin -- the sin that has been inherent in personkind since Adam and Eve ate from the apple in Eden. Christ freed them spirtually and emotionally, not politically.
Their confusion gives me hope. Why? Because if these guys who were hanging out with Jesus for three years, listening to all of His teachings, witnessing all His healings, watching Him day and night -- if these guys didn't always understand all the dimensions of Christ and His teachings, then I don't feel so bad when I can't wrap my mind around certain aspects of theology. And what do we do when we can't understand Jesus, can't understand God?
We trust. We walk in faith toward what we do comprehend. We wait for His spiritual revelation. We put it in the "mystery" category and know that as St. Paul so effectively states in his second Letter to the Church at Corinth: "For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face; now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (2 Corinthians 13:12, King James). So in heaven we'll finally know all that is "mystery" in this life, whether that be regarding God, human relationships, events in our lives -- we SHALL know it ALL. That verse from 2nd Corinthians is one that I love and look forward to. Woo-hoo!
And when Jesus left earth and rose up to heaven, He promised us a very special something: the Holy Spirit. The Comforter. We'll celebrate Pentecost next Sunday: the day when the Holy Spirit came down on the disciples in the Upper Room. And am I ever looking forward to this celebration!