Yesterday was Ascension Day, the day that Scripture tells us Jesus left this earth and ascended into heaven. The Gospel of Mark tells us in simple terms that Jesus was taken up into heaven and the disciples began to preach the Gospel. Luke tells us pretty much the same thing. The Book of Acts tells us that after Jesus had ascended into heaven, the disciples stood looking up at the sky. Two angels appeared to them and asked them why they were staring at the sky and then that Jesus would one day return as they saw Him go.
Jesus ascended into heaven forty days after His resurrection from the dead. Fifty days after His resurrection is Pentecost Sunday — the birthday of the church, for that is the day the Holy Spirit descended and filled the apostles with His power. This same power is given to us when we believe that Jesus is the Christ and He is our Lord and Saviour. This is the important bit. If we have not surrendered our lives to Him and are not living in complete obedience to His will for us, then we are not His children and we don’t belong to Him.
It is only by His grace and mercy that we can be called children of God. We must be in obedience to His will for us. The Jewish scholar Abraham Heschel put it nicely; paraphrasing Rene Descartes “I think, therefore I am”, he said “I am commanded, therefore I am.” Nicely put, I’d say.
I recently came across two definitions of grace and mercy that I really like. Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve and mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve.
These are both good definitions, ones that I think I will hold on to for they are worth keeping close to my heart.