16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Today we observe Jesus’ Ascension. Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus ascends to heaven, to rule creation at the right hand of God until he comes again. The early church expected this coming soon—that God would right the injustices of the world. But we’re still waiting. In the meantime, Jesus gives his disciples something to do: go, baptize, and teach. This is the mission of the church. We spread throughout the earth announcing the God’s reign, a better reign, has begun—and teaching what that means in the things we say and do and in the ways we treat our neighbors. Jesus gives us no excuse—he has the authority of heaven and earth behind his words and he sends us as a token of his presence throughout the earth. Our mission, then, everything we have to do in the world, comes from the reign of Jesus. It means that no matter how defeated we feel, Jesus will not let us fail; no matter how broken creation appears, it belongs to Jesus.
Gracious God, we thank you for the lives you have entrusted to us, to love and serve our neighbors just as you have loved and served us in Jesus Christ. Let your Spirit remain with us, to guide and encourage, as we go about Christ’s work, until he completes all things, in a new heaven and new earth. We pray in Christ. Amen.
Art: Christ the King of Kings, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. http://diglib.library.vanderbilt.edu/act-imagelink.pl?RC=55319 [retrieved May 18, 2020]. Original source: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Christ_King_of_Kings_(Greece,_c._1600).jpg.