A line in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles has always intrigued me. ”This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” Every time I hear this or read it, I find myself reflecting on for quite a while. Sometimes, I even get this silly vision of the apostles staring into the sky with a dumbfounded look and then two angels walking up to the apostles both of them staring into the sky as well – sort of ‘Charlie Chaplinesque’.
But in all seriousness, I am really intrigued by these words; because I think many of us tend to have the short-sighted vision as the apostles do – Jesus went up to heaven by ascending on a cloud. But, I believe the angels’ words were meant to have us look further back. Jesus ascension into heaven did not start at that point. His ascension started at His incarnation. His path to His heavenly home went through the river, to the village, through His people, to a mountain, through His Passion to the cross and the tomb. His “way”, as the angels called it, went through the blind men healed; the sick cured; the dead raised; the encounters with the Pharisees; the meetings with Herod and Pilate; and, of the course, the obedience shown in the Garden of Gethsemane. If His path, His way, could have one name (and it does), it would be Love! He witnessed to the God’s love for His creation.
I believe this is what the angels were alluding to with their comments to the apostles “Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.” His final return will be glorious and unmistakable, no doubt. Everyone will recognize it – they might not like it; but they will recognize it – but that will be the end of His return. His return starts with us living the ‘path’, living the ‘way’. His return starts with our witnessing to God’s love; by service to the blind and sick of our time; by our visiting the villages and proclaiming this love to our people; by our challenging the leaders of our time to what is true and right; and by our obedience to will of the Father. This is how Jesus will return in the same way as he ascended from us.