Reflection on Luke 24.44-53 (Ascension Day; Easter Season)

A reflection for Ascension Day, Easter 6: Thursday, 18 May 2023, on Luke 24.44-53

Luke 24.44-53

Jesus said to the disciples, ‘These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you – that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then he opened their  minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.’ Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.


Jesus said to his disciples: ‘You are witnesses to these things’ … and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

In today’s reading we are being invited to reflect upon how we respond to the Good News , that is ‘the Gospel’ of Jesus Christ, our risen and ascended Lord and Saviour.

In this modern age, many who hear of something that delights or excites, or that angers or revolts, resort without hesitation to some form of internet-based social media. Without hesitation, they inflict their often ill-informed opinions and prejudices upon the world. Of course, if they are grouped in the elite circle known as ‘influencers’, their opinions and prejudices will not only be read, possibly by millions, but will gain traction and become viewed as the ‘gospel truth’.

Of course, all of this is absolute nonsense! The Gospel Truth is the Good News of Jesus’ redeeming love for humanity. There is nothing angry, exploitative, manipulative or prejudicial in the Gospel Truth. The naïve egotism of internet ‘influencers’ has nothing to do with the Gospel, and rarely with the Truth.

In today’s reading we are presented with Jesus’ last words to his eleven remaining disciples. In the course of this short passage Jesus opens the minds of his disciples (and us) to the full truth of the scriptures. Then he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven.

It is after the moment of the Ascension that we encounter the challenge of today’s reading. As the disciples witnessed the very final moment of Jesus’ earthly ministry, they did not rush out and fuel the rumour-mill. Their first reaction was one of continual worship. As we read: they returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

We live in a take-it-or-leave-it, throwaway world. We place greater value on personal status and the way our ill-informed opinions and prejudices are received by others than we place upon our relationship with God. We prefer to fuel the gossip-driven rumour-mill than to truly and sincerely worship God. It is in this harsh reality that we find today’s challenge …

No matter what happens to us minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day, we are challenged first and foremost to share that experience with God, whether in thankfulness or need, in despair or praise. Today we see the immediate response of the disciples to one of the greatest events in human history … a response of great joy and blessing. Let us pray that our response to all that befalls us in this life may be exactly the same.