13. Departure (3)

Short Meditations on the Ascension: 13. Departure (3)

Acts 1:10  They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them.

In the Gospel we just had the bald statement, “he left them and was taken up into heaven,” but now as Luke writes in Acts, sometime later and has time to ponder some more on just what happened, he remembers and includes some of the expressions of those who from the first were eyewitnesses”, (Lk 1:2) and who perhaps remembered with something like, “It was incredible, we could hardly believe our eyes, we just stood there looking up, staring at the cloud, willing it to disperse so we could see him still, see what was happening to him, not understanding it, hoping he would come back down.” Who knows?

Now what is beautiful about this verse is something we so often see in Scripture, a blend between the ordinary and the divinely supernatural. We have been observing the ‘ordinary’, the very human disciples standing there looking up, gazing at a physical human body, one of which John would one day write, “which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched,” (1 Jn 1:1) a physical human body that they had interacted with for three years, and now it rises up before them and keeps on going up like a hot air balloon and eventually disappears into a cloud. Yes, all the features of ordinary material life running amok! Staggeringly difficult for the human mind to comprehend, even for the believer to believe, and yet it is as much part of the canon of Scripture as anything else!

But then in the very midst of all this suddenly – and note that suddenness which indicates they appeared from nowhere – these two men in white appeared beside them to convey a message from heaven. And then presumably they disappear as suddenly as they appeared because there is no further mention of them. Men who appear and disappear like this, men who come bringing wisdom from heaven, have got to be angels.

So there we have it, the human ordinary gone extraordinarily, mixed in with the divinely supernatural, both of which challenge the belief of the cynic, but the cynic so often misses so much because of their self-centred limitations. Yes, this is ‘out of this world’ but so is the Son of God coming from heaven, so are miracles, healings, deliverances, raisings from the dead, but the more you think of this enormous swathe of information brought to us in the Gospels, the more you have to wonder why a number of clearly intelligent human beings would bother to write such things, so extensively and in so much detail – ordinary and supernatural – if it wasn’t true? Their behaviour describes exactly what ours would have been if we’d been there.

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