Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Today we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord, the fulfillment of His work in this world. He returned to His Father to be seated at His right hand.
In a sense, there were antecedents of this event, as well as the Resurrection. Before the Resurrection, not only Jesus, also the Old Testament prophets revived some people from death. For example, the prophet Elijah and the son of the widow of Sarepta (1 Kings 17: 17-24). Jesus himself revived the son of the widow of Nain, the daughter of Jairus and Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha of Bethany.
The difference between these stories and the Resurrection of Jesus is that those people received another opportunity to live in this world, but after more years, they died physically again. It did not change reality for others. When Jesus was resurrected, everything was changed for everyone. Jesus overcame death to live forever, and won for us the promise of resurrection and eternal life.
In the case of the Ascension, we find in Genesis 5: 21-24 the story of the patriarch, Enoch. "Enoch walked with God, and he disappeared, because God took him." And we have our text for today.
There are similarities between the story of Elijah and the account of the Ascension of our Lord. Elijah, the great prophet of the Old Testament, walked with his disciple, Elisha, as Jesus walked with the apostles. And when they were walking, suddenly, Elijah and Jesus both left this world in a wonderful way, they went up into the heavens. Also, before Elijah left, Elisha asked for a double portion of his spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit.
"He then lifted up the mantle of Elijah that had fallen off, and turned, and stood at the edge of the Jordan. And taking the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, he struck the waters, and said, Where is Jehovah, the God of Elijah? And so the waters were struck in the same way, they parted, and Elisha passed through.” When Elisha took the mantle of Elijah and struck and separated the waters like Elijah, it meant that the Holy Spirit had passed over to Elisha, the new prophet.
Also, before his Ascension, Jesus promised the apostles to send the Holy Spirit to them, to help them continue the mission of Jesus. And they received it the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
However, there is a difference that we find in Acts 1: 1-11. "And while they were keeping their eyes fixed on heaven, for awhile after He left, behold, two men in white garments stood by them; who also said to them: Men of Galilee, why are you looking up to heaven? This same Jesus who has been taken from you to heaven, will come as you have seen Him go to heaven. "
The difference is the promise that Jesus will come again in the clouds as He disappeared. No one saw Enoch in this world again, nor did Elisha see Elijah here again. But, we have the promise that Jesus will come in glory to judge the living and the dead.
St. Paul speaks of that day in this way in 1 Thessalonians 4: 16-17, "For the Lord Himself with acclamation, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven; and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who live, who are left, together with them will be caught up in the clouds to receive the Lord in the air, and thus we will always be with the Lord. "
That is to say, we have the promise of resurrection and ascension for ourselves. We will rise from death and go up to receive the Lord in the air. In the promise of the second coming of our Lord, we also have the promise of resurrection and ascension. Those of us who will live on that day will also ascend. Therefore, what happened with Enoch and Elijah were previews of what will happen to us.
Therefore, with the expectation of the second coming of Christ, we can live among the trials and difficulties of this world with hope and joy. In this, we have the peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
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