I recently came back home from a two-week trip to Israel and Palestine with a group from Dordt College. Over the course of our time there, we were able to visit places like the Jordan River, The Garden of Gethsemane, Jacob’s Well, the Temple Mount, and so many other places. One of which was at the place where Jesus ascended into heaven.
We gathered inside the Chapel of Ascension on the Mount of Olives. Inside the small, circular chapel is a slab of stone that faith tradition says has the footprint of Jesus’ last step on earth. Some people knelt beside the footprint and kissed it, some lit candles; our group stood around it. I looked down at a small dent in the stone and imagined the story that I’ve been told since I was young.
Whether you believe that this was the actual place that Jesus ascended, it’s hard not to admit that this place is significant.
The book of Acts begins by fleshing out how the book of Luke ended. Jesus says to His disciples that “[they] will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and [they] will be [His] witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Here we were, two thousand years later, from “the ends of the earth” Sioux Center, Iowa, still proclaiming the name of Jesus.
The word “power” that Jesus speaks of in verse eight is an incredibly strong word. The Greek word “dunamis” is the same root word for the English word “dynamite.” This power that Jesus gives us is explosive, wild, and uncontainable.
It’s a pretty radical concept that this kind of explosive power resides within me. As our group stood around the footprint of Christ, I remembered that we as His people are the hands and feet of Jesus. The same power of Christ that conquered death resides in me through the work of the Holy Spirit.
The words that Paul writes to the Ephesians teach us just how beautiful this power is.
God of our Lord Jesus the Anointed, Father of Glory: I call out to You on behalf of Your people. Give them minds ready to receive wisdom and revelation so they will truly know You. Open the eyes of their hearts, and let the light of Your truth flood in. Shine Your light on the hope You are calling them to embrace. Reveal to them the glorious riches You are preparing as their inheritance. Let them see the full extent of Your power that is at work in those of us who believe, and may it be done according to Your might and power. – Ephesians 1:17-19 (VOICE translation)
Christ’s ascension is beautiful, but the power didn’t stop two thousand years ago. The footprint at the Chapel of Ascension is amazing, but the feet that gather around it are just as incredible. His work continues, and His spirit lives inside you and me. His church, His body, His bride continues to point people towards the hope of Jesus Christ’s resurrection. May you experience the power, fullness, and glorious light as you are His witnesses “to the ends of the earth.”