â€œâ€¦there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. 14 He was given authority, glory and sovereign powerâ€¦ and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
That picture of the pearly gates, Peteâ€™s got his podium out in front, the recently deceased pops up and thereâ€™s clouds and floating winged babies all around. An unusual picture thatâ€™s not really found in scripture and sort of downplays the resurrection at the end of time and Jesus as the King and judge of all, but we can see where bits of it come from. The kingdom in the clouds, of course is the Kingdom of God that Jesus so often talks about and that Daniel prophesied about 600yrs before. The Son of Man would come with clouds to the Ancient of Days, God Almighty, and receive all authority on heaven and earth and His kingdom will have no end. And the Apostles witnessed this being fulfilled, Jesus, Son of Man and Son of God, came with clouds to the presence of the Father, His right hand, taken up at His ascension. Crowned at the cross now ascending to the throne.
This is one part of the Easter story, of Christâ€™s earthly ministry that is often forgotten. We know His teaching, the forgiveness and new life of His death and resurrection, but less about this taking up of His universal ministry as King and Lord of all. But this is just as important as His death and resurrection because after ascending He is not bound to a particular place in the universe, He is at the Fatherâ€™s right hand, not a particular place but as the psalmist writes again and again, wherever God is working, wherever His power is (Psalm 16:11; 17:7; 78:54). Paul too writes that He ascended to fill all things (Ephesians 4:10) and that in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28). So, itâ€™s not as if when Jesus ascended 2000yrs ago He abandoned us, or even that He left us with just the Holy Spirit and now has nothing to do with us. No Jesus Himself promised last week and the week before that He would be with you, in you and you in Him, so close that we are part of each other (John 14:18-15:11), one body as Paul writes elsewhere (1 Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 5:23).
The body of Christ, that phrase is used both of all Christians and also somewhere elseâ€¦ Holy Communion. Yes itâ€™s in a different sense but if Jesus does have authority and power to do anything and in Him we live and move and have our being, then Jesus can be here with us now. And in His grace and mercy He has said of this bread and wine, this is my body, this is my blood. He has promised to be here for you in this meal for all Christians, here we can hold Him and receive His forgiveness and new life. A wonderful, little confusing, but amazing gift of Christâ€™s presence and love that we share with all Christians, those before us and those after, and now also in full with those coming for the first time today.
And so the peace that He brings for you, the peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham.