They were happy when Jesus left

How someone leaves makes a lasting impression on others. Picture spending the evening with a group of friends and at some point, everyone looks around and says, "Hey, where did Josh go?" Exiting unannounced leaves everyone wondering whether Josh was angry or hurt or something.

How we exit communicates a lot to our friends. Disappearing destabilizes the group. The slam of a door and loud cuss words creates conflict. Hugs and fond farewells bestow peace and love.

Let's think, then, about how Jesus exited and what it communicates.

In Luke 24 and Acts 1, Luke describes the ascension of Jesus. Between the two accounts, here are the facts:

  • A few weeks after his resurrection, Jesus was with a gathering of friends outside Jerusalem.
  • He told them what their divine mission was. They would be his representatives there in the city and elsewhere even to the ends of the earth. And he told them how they would be equipped for their mission: the Holy Spirit would come upon them, and they would receive power (Acts 1:7-8).
  • He lifted up his hands and blessed them (Lk 24:50).
  • He was taken up into the sky in full view of all of them, and they watched him until a cloud hid him from their sight (Acts 1:9).
What does this departure communicate to us?
  • Jesus is a man of friendships. He could have simply disappeared when no one was around and never returned, but he didn't. The value he placed on his friendships wouldn't allow him to depart that way.
  • Jesus has a mission for us, and he is relying on us to complete it. He is looking for us to enlarge his circle of friends. And his friends become our friends. It's a win for everyone concerned.
  • Jesus left his friends with a blessing. It's like leaving a dinner party with a round of thank yous, hugs and "I can't wait to do this again!" Jesus left, but he left behind the warmth of peace and love.
  • Jesus left in bodily form. How important is this? I talk about it at more length on pp 77-78 of Luminous. It means there is a human being -- a fully embodied one! -- enthroned in heaven. It means heaven will for sure come to earth in a robustly physical way. It means Jesus will definitely return, because his embodiment as a human being is not temporary but permanent.
So Jesus exited in a very specific way that communicates a lot. And what was the upshot for Jesus' friends? Did they freak out in fear or moan in grief? No, the way Jesus departed made such a profound impact on them that "they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy" (Luke 24:52).

Reflecting on Jesus' exit, are there aspects of it that cause you to worship him and go about your day in great joy?


  1. DR. Beck, Interesting and insirhtful


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