Today is one of those days that I realize just how much I've missed by being in a Christian tradition that does not attend to the liturgical calendar. With the possible exception of Pentecost, many Protestants, certainly most evangelicals, just glide smoothly from Easter to Advent. I am part of the majority of evangelicals who have never paid much attention to the rhythms of the church calendar. But I'm trying to learn.
Today is Ascension Day.
Without the Ascension, Jesus is just Lazarus, albeit with miracles and insightful teaching. What separates Jesus from others in the New Testament who were raised from the dead -- and from those in the church age who have been raised from the dead -- is that they will all die again. Jesus did not. Because 40 days after the first Easter, in the sight of many followers, he was caught away to the heavenlies, from which he will one day return.
Of course the hinge-point of human history is the Crucifixion, but it matters only because of the Resurrection. And the Resurrection only matters because of the Ascension. It is not outrageous to claim that the Ascension is the clearest proof of Jesus' divinity.
Points to ponder. Happy Ascension Day.