Which is to ask can belief in Jesus Christ be a private matter – ever?
Think about it – this figure enters human history and overcomes death. The claims associated with Jesus of Nazareth demand serious investigation by every human being on the planet.
The feasts we celebrate during the Easter season – Resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost – are seismic.
Today we’ve reached Christ’s Ascension which gives purpose and direction to the Resurrection. Otherwise he’d still be roaming the earth in his resurrected body – eternally wandering with no home to go to! Home is important.
There are three parts to the Ascension; firstly the resurrection itself, secondly the power to judge (every man and woman) and thirdly, sitting at Gods right hand in glory.
From his place at God’s right hand he sends the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) thus fulfilling his promise not to leave us orphans but to come back. Unfortunately, many of us experience God as though we are orphans!
Jesus says that this Spirit will lead us to the truth. What is this truth? It’s not truth as facts, or the truth of particular happenings or events but truth as a person, God, who is absolute Truth. So “the truth will set you free” means that God will set you free. Two things happen when we experience the absolute Truth through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Firstly, we understand that we’ve ‘discovered’ the universal meaning and purpose of life – our universal home. Secondly, we see the glories of this world for what they are – trifles!
How do we get to this point?
The answer is in the Gospel; the eleven go to meet him, to the mountain where Jesus had agreed to meet them. The mountain is significant – the road to God is always likened to climbing a mountain.
On the mountain they meet him. Think of the effort involved in climbing a mountain – that’s what practicing the faith is about. When they climb the mountain they see Christ ascending – when we practice the faith properly we should begin to see things too; they fall down, though some hesitated. Some are still not sure, bewildered, and incredulous; it’s too much for them. It is; it’s seismic!
With absolute authority and power the risen Jesus walks up to them and the words that fall from his mouth are sovereign; “all authority in Heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father…” – it’s the authority of absolute victory.
What’s strikingly obvious about this claim – as with all Jesus’ claims – is that there’s no middle ground, it’s absolute. No surprise there because if the figure of Jesus of Nazareth really is the son of God then it cannot be otherwise. There can’t be a middle ground! There’s nowhere else to go and every detail of human life must be built on him, our response to him cannot be a private affair. It just can’t!
If he is who he says he is and we build human life on something else then it seems reasonable to assume that at some point there’ll be an adjustment!