Lesson from the Fourth Sunday after Easter

Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father

Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father

This week we look forward to the Ascension of Christ and Pentecost. The Epistle, Gospel and Collect show us that it is by God’s grace that we can prepare to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Collect approaches God as the One “Who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men…” In the Epistle, we hear that, “Every good gift, and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights….” The gift of the Holy Spirit is possible because Jesus, as He states in John 16, “goes away” to heaven. There, Jesus presents Himself to the Father and then the Father then turn gives all things to the Son.
In the Creed, we confess that Jesus “ascended into heaven and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” Being seated at the right hand of the Father means that Jesus is in a place of authority. In Ephesians, St. Paul explains the import of the Ascension: “When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men…He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things (Eph 4:8).”
Jesus alluded to the time when He would sit at His Father’s right hand time in his prayer to His Father in John 17, “I glorified thee on earth, having accomplished the work which thou gavest me to do; and now, Father, glorify thou me in thy own presence with the glory which I had with thee before the world was made (John 17:4, 5).” It is Jesus’ return to glory that makes the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost possible
It must have startled the disciples when Jesus told them He was going away and that it was better for them if He went away. We should be startled as well if we contemplate what Jesus is saying. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Jesus were bodily, visibly present with us here today? His presence would seem to solve a host of issues, however, the Holy Spirit Jesus sends us is everywhere, wherever “two or three are gathered together in his name.” It is through the Holy Spirit that our Lord is with his Church always, “even unto the end of the world.” He could in His Spirit be with all believers, at all places, and in all times to prepare them for his second bodily coming, at the Last Day.
This week, let us pray that by the Spirit’s guidance, the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” may mold our “unruly wills and affections” and ready us for the Kingdom of Heaven.