"Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem--a Sabbath day's journey away. When the arrived they went to the room upstairs where they were staying: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James. All theses were continually united in prayer along with the women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers." Acts 1:12-14
At the marketplace in Jerusalem, the Apostle John ran into his cousin Yusef who asked, "You told me last week that the Crucified Rabbi from Nazareth was alive!" John replied, "Absolutely! We were with Him on the Mount of Olives just yesterday!" "Well, where is He now?", demanded Cousin Yusef. And in the first ever usage of "what had happened was", John explains, "Well... see... there was this cloud, right..."
Yes, as the authors of The Ascension: Humanity in the Presence of God have aptly stated, "the ascension seems like bad evangelism strategy."
In the last several days, I've been reading books like the one already mentioned and also Derek Thomas' Taken Up To Heaven to help me answer the mind-boggling questions as well as wrap my mind around the enormous blessings that I have on the topic of ascension. But just yesterday, while I was listening to a very helpful sermon on Luke 24:50-53, I was challenged to look at the reactions of the Apostles to what they witnessed in the ascension of Christ. Certainly, they were joyous and worshipful at what they saw, but as one who wasn't present that day, it made me wonder what my reaction should be. As I searched further for a response, I instead discovered a resolve: prayer.
I don't know if the Apostles actually understood that Jesus was taking them to the Mount of Olives in order that they would witness His ascent/departure. I can only imagine the awe of that moment when the cloud came and took Him out of their sight. But I do know that one minute, Jesus was there and the next He was no longer physically present with them. When the last high-five was slapped, someone had to realize that the party had ended. At least that phase of it.
What do you do the day after Jesus ascends to heaven?
"All these were continually united in prayer..." Every believer now lives in the day after the ascension of Jesus. And while there are many differences between we who live today and the Apostles of that time, we are alike in this way: we have our marching orders. We are to preach the gospel, make disciples that make disciples, instruct and train mankind everywhere to obey Jesus and His teachings, and to baptize them into the family of God. How are we to be enabled by the Holy Spirit to do these things to the glory of Christ without fervent and regular prayer to the Father?
Whatever other response you may have to the ascension may the Lord grant you a heart to faithfully pray for Christ's kingdom to advance through the gospel and His church.