What meaning does the Ascension of Jesus hold for us today? It seems to me that we can learn to depend upon God without being dependent upon Him. Many people in our society, especially women, are raised to be dependent upon others. First they are dependent upon parents and then they are dependent upon husbands. Likewise, some men never leave the nest. The fact is that struggling and wrestling with many of the gray issues of life and learning to think for yourself is just as vital to the spiritual process as it is to the maturation process.
Perhaps you have read or scene a production of Camelot. At the beginning of the play we see that the magician Merlin is constantly attempting to get the rather slow King Arthur to think for himself. Every time a difficult decision arises Arthur simply turns to his confidant Merlin for answers. The reader quickly understands who the real power behind the throne is. In the last scene a crisis occurs. The Knights of the Round Table, once comrades and unified, are now warring against one another. The wicked Modred has started a rebellion and Arthur has just found out about the affair between Lancelot and Guinevere. All seems loss and Arthur needs Merlin now more than ever. He needs his confidant. But Merlin is now dead. Now Arthur will be tested. Not by battle but by the ability to make decisions on his own. His answer man is no longer there. Now we find out what he is really made of. In desperation Arthur cries out: "O Merlin, where are you now when I need you the most? Having to think is such a blight." It’s so much easier to lean on someone else for all of the decisions and the answers.
What was the situation as regards the disciples? For three years now their every move had centered on Jesus. Around his leadership these 12 common mean have become the toast of Israel. They are famous but famous only by association. If they are to grow Jesus must leave. If Jesus had not departed they would have grown to be dependent upon his physical presence. Instead of struggling with great moral issues in the light of what Jesus had said and done, they would simply run to him for all of the answers. In every perplexing situation in life they would have counted on hearing his familiar voice and seeing his reassuring smile. There is security in that but not growth. What was needed to launch them out into the world was not a kind of unhealthy dependence upon him, but a deep abiding faith. As our Lord told Thomas “You have believed because you have seen. Blessed are those who have not seen yet still believe.”
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