Acts 1: 6-14
John 17: 1-11
Following Jesus - what did the disciples think they had ‘signed up for’?
When they first decide to follow Jesus, perhaps they think it will be nice to have a rabbi, to sit around and listen to him, watch him perform miracles.. all very cosy.
Yet this prayer of Jesus - just before his crucifixion – warns them that it’s not that simple. The time is fast coming when they will have to do the work Jesus has begun.
And the ascension, which was celebrated on Thursday, just underlines this sense of responsibility. Jesus has died and has risen but is now gone back to the father – the last thing they glimpse are his feet. Then they have to get on their feet & really start to follow Jesus.
The disciples learn that following is not just tagging along after: it involves more commitment than that.
I’m sorry to be so unseasonal – but we find this kind of committed following in the carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’! You might remember that the King sees the peasant ‘gathering winter fuel’ and sets off into the snow to bring food & wine to the destitute peasant. The poor old page doesn’t really have a choice :
“In his master’s steps he trod, where the snow lay dinted.
Heat was in the very sod which the saint had printed”.
Jesus’ resurrection body has left the earth forever, and so the disciples have to accept the challenge to live life as Jesus’ new body, the church.
But Jesus is not just passing the baton to the disciples & leaving them to it. After the ascension, they might well have remembered this prayer of Jesus to the Father that ‘they may they be one as we are one’ and Jesus request for God the Father to ‘protect them’.
The disciples must walk in Jesus’ footsteps, but always guided and upheld by what Jesus has left with them - The Spirit. Of which more next week!