Ascension presents Philip and Thomas discussing their Lord's final commission in the light of the ascension. We often fail to appreciate what the termination of the physical presence of Jesus meant for the disciples, especially as they faced the task he had left them. The finality of the ascension points to the necessity of Pentecost.

Reader:Acts 1.1-11.
PHILIP:He's gone now, Thomas. He's left it all up to us. He isn't here with us any more!
THOMAS:My Lord and my God! Just when we discover who he really is!
PHILIP:Some day he will come again!
THOMAS:But, Philip, that will be in judgment at the end of everything!
PHILIP:It doesn't help us now!
THOMAS:We've spent three years following Jesus! We can't go back to what we were!
PHILIP:And he's given us something to do - our very biggest task - and left us!
THOMAS:His instructions were very clear, weren't they? "You are to be my witnesses."
PHILIP:Yes, everywhere - Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria - even the ends of the earth!
THOMAS:That's more than he did himself in these last few years! And now he's left us!
PHILIP:Thomas, do you remember how he said we are to "go and make disciples of all nations"?
THOMAS:That seems tougher than being his witnesses - now that he's gone!
PHILIP:But is he gone? I mean - he said, "I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
THOMAS:But he has gone - so visibly and obviously. It's almost as if we were meant to see him disappear physically!
PHILIP:So we'd be able to trust in his presence in a new way - unseen!
THOMAS:But why leave us now?
PHILIP:Now that he's gone, he can be with us everywhere - as we scatter to Judaea, Samaria and the ends of the earth!
THOMAS:I see what you mean. If he hadn't gone, we'd all have stuck around in Jerusalem or wherever he happened to be. None of us would have gone anywhere to be his witnesses. We'd have hung around where he was!
PHILIP:I know I would have anyway!
THOMAS:Now - to be your witnesses, to make disciples. I know you're here somewhere, Lord, but I'm still not sure I can do it!
PHILIP:Thomas, I'm sure I can't!
THOMAS:You mean, Philip, that you're not even going to try! Jesus did say he is going to be with us - you just reminded me a minute ago!
PHILIP:And he also said, "You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you..."
THOMAS:Then Jesus will be powerfully present with us!
PHILIP:And in us!

From Between the Lines. Dialogues for Worship by Peter J. Blackburn published by Testimonium Fellowship 1992, © Peter J. Blackburn.
Permission is given for copying of this document for local use with this copyright notice intact. For any other proposed use the specific permission of Peter J. Blackburn must be sought.

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