While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. — Luke 24:51
Between Easter Sunday and Ascension Day, there are forty days. We only have glimpses of what Jesus did during that period, but our reading for today includes two of those glimpses—one taking place on Easter Sunday, and the other on Ascension Day.
Jesus’ Easter appearance to his disciples shocks them. They are startled and frightened. They have fears and doubts. In response, Jesus encourages his disciples to look at his hands. He even uses his hands to take some fish and eat it, showing them he is real, having flesh and bones.
The crucified hands of Jesus have inspired artists and poets for 2,000 years. And these same hands are later raised over the disciples in blessing as Jesus parts with them. Luke records that after Jesus is taken up to heaven, the disciples worship him and return to Jerusalem “with great joy.”
Sometimes our understanding of the work of Jesus and our response can come across as mechanical or even pompous. It should never be. A key remedy is to focus on the hands of Jesus. His hands were pierced for you and me. And they still reach out to us, in all our need each day, and bless us.
Dear Jesus, may your pierced hands still lead us, challenge us, comfort us, protect us, and bless us. Thank you for your love, which you so clearly showed when you opened your hands to receive nails meant for us. Amen.