“Then Jesus led them to Bethany, and lifting His hands to heaven, He blessed them. While he was blessing them, He left them and was taken into heaven. So they worshiped Him and then returned to Jerusalem filled with great joy. And they spent a lot of time in the temple praising God.” Luke 24:50-53, NLT
1st Sunday - “The Blessing!
The parting of Jesus from His disciples, after being with them an additional forty days after His Resurrection, must have been a bitter-sweet moment. The scriptures bear record, and Jesus warned the disciples, that they would not expect to see Jesus after His resurrection. It was after the resurrection of Jesus that the disciples came to better understand His mission. When they were led to Bethany, it could be described the way Shakespeare placed words on the lips of Juliet, as she stood on the balcony with a broken heart: “Parting is such sweet sorrow.” If memories bring us joy, parting elicits sorrow. Interestingly, when Jesus was preparing to leave, He took the disciples to Bethany. Here were many memories: Mary and Martha; Simon the leper; Lazarus; fellowship; relaxation and respite. Then too as one Bible scholar said, in Bethany “the crest of the Mount of Olives hid the place from the gaze of the crowded city…” The Ascension was to be witnessed by the disciples, and not by a diverse crowd. When Jesus came to earth in a tiny stable carved into a cave, besides his parents, there were no great crowds visiting Him. When Jesus was buried, it was only Mary Magdalene, several other women, and a few disciples, who made it to the tomb on Resurrection Morning. Now for the Ascension, it’s just Jesus and eleven disciples. This moment was different from most partings. For one thing, Jesus “blessed” the disciples; He assured them that He would always be with them. If there was initial gloom and doom, it was eviscerated. When the disciples headed back to Jerusalem they were overcome with “joy.” The solemn journey to Bethany, became a jubilant experience of expectation. Dare to let Jesus bless you in tough times, in difficult moments; replacing your fears and pain with joy!