The Ascension of the Lord (which is commemorated today), is described by Luke’s gospel in a rather wooden, three-dimensional way. “While [Jesus] was blessing [the disciples], he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God” (24:51-53). Today, instead of saying that he “was carried up into heaven,” we might say that he phased into another dimension. (I’ll admit that watching Star Trek has affected my theology!)
Jesus’ doing this before his disciples reminds me of the gospel reading from this past Sunday, which was John 15:9-17. It was my sermon text, and I especially noted verse 15: “I do not call you servants any longer,” Jesus says to his disciples, “because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” These were some of my thoughts about that:
Jesus takes the initiative and reframes their relationship. Friends and servants are not the same thing. Servants do not ask questions; they do what they’re told! Friends, on the other hand, do not ask us to blindly follow. They do not ask for blind faith. Friends want the best for each other. Friends want eyes and hearts to be opened.
Still, too often, we limit our concern and interest to a tiny circle. We’re too slow to expand our vision, to broaden our horizon. Too often, we feel like being friends with Jesus is an uncomfortable, and even dangerous, enterprise. (No doubt, there are times that it is.) But what if we encourage each other a little more to accept the friendship of Jesus? He certainly wants us to.
We might even see those with broken wings gaining the ability to fly!