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The Risen Lord is with us always to the end of time… (Matt. 28:20)
Jesus’ departure and ascension into heaven was both an end and a beginning for his disciples. While it was the end of Jesus’ physical presence with his beloved disciples, it marked the beginning of Jesus’ presence with them in a new way. Jesus promised that he would be with them always to the end of time (Matt. 28:20). Now as the glorified and risen Lord, ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven, Jesus promised to send them the Holy Spirit who would anoint them with power from on high on the Feast of Pentecost, just as Jesus was anointed for his ministry at the River Jordan (Lk. 3:21-22, 4:1,18). When the Lord Jesus departed physically from the apostles, they were not left in sorrow or grief. Instead, they were filled with joy and with great anticipation for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
But why did the Risen Lord have to ascend into heaven? The Father raised the glorified body of his Son and enthroned him in glory at his right hand in heaven. The Lord Jesus in his glorified body now reigns as Lord over the heavens and the earth – over all that he has created. He reigns from the throne in heaven as our Merciful Redeemer and Gracious King. He intercedes for us and he empowers us through the outpouring of his Holy Spirit. The Lord Jesus gives us new life in his Spirit and he strengthens us in faith, hope and love; so that we can serve him and carry on his work as citizens of his kingdom here on earth.
St. Paul reminds us that we are called to be ambassadors for Jesus Christ. Just as ambassadors are appointed to represent their country and to speak on behalf of their nation’s ruler, we too are appointed by Jesus to speak on his behalf and to bring others into a close and personal encounter with the Lord and Ruler of heaven and earth. This is the great commission which the risen Christ gives to the whole church. We all have been given a share in this task – to be heralds of the good news and ambassadors for Jesus Christ, the only saviour of the world. We have not been left alone in this task, for the risen Lord works in and through us by the power of his Holy Spirit. Today we witness a new Pentecost as the Lord pours out his Holy Spirit upon his people to renew and strengthen the body of Christ and to equip it for effective ministry and mission world-wide. Do you witness to others the joy of the Gospel and the hope of the resurrection?
Fr Odinaka Nwadike