“…together with certain women…”
by Debbonnaire Kovacs
by Debbonnaire Kovacs
submitted May 29, 2014
Based on Acts 1:1-14, Luke 24:49-53, and Matt. 28:18-20.
It’s been almost six weeks, and I think maybe I’m starting to regain some normal intelligence. I do believe it was a week after the astonishing resurrection before I stopped crying, and another week beyond that before I could speak in full sentences.
I was there, you see. I wept along the way as my Lord dragged his cross, uncomplaining. I was horrified and sick at the sight of his bloody, torn body. I saw them…nail him…
Can’t think too much about that or the ordeal that followed.
I didn’t sleep for three days—none of us women did. We did our best to comfort the two Marys, although his mother seemed more resigned and less frantically distraught than Magdalene. I helped gather the burial spices, and waited through the dark Sabbath, and—
I will always wish I’d gone with Magdalene in the dark predawn hours on First Day, but then, I don’t begrudge her the extra encouragement. She needed it, and it’s been the settling of her, I think. I was one of the first women to the tomb, anyway.
I saw angels!
I’ve been present many of the times that Jesus has appeared in the past few weeks. It’s so different. We used to press around him, pester him, try to get him to do what we wanted, and scold him when he didn’t…I’m embarrassed about it now. At first, we were so respectful and on our best behavior that it was uncomfortable, but Jesus soon set us at ease again, as he always has. Now, we press around him in a different way, trying to soak in his presence while we have it.
And today, we’re walking to Bethany. There’s quite a group of us. I’m trying to hear what he’s saying.
Somebody’s asked, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?"
I smile and shake my head. These men. Don’t they get that Jesus is not about political power?
“It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority,” Jesus replies, and I press forward to hear more clearly. Does that mean he will remove the Romans and restore Israel eventually?
But he seems to have changed the subject. “I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you, which you have heard of from me. John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you. You are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." [A conflation of Acts 1:4-8 and Luke 24:49]
He has told us several times that he is sending “the Spirit” or “the comforter” to us. I know I, for one, will need a lot of comforting if Jesus goes away. I can hardly bear to think of it! But he does seem to be preparing us for a separation…and come to think of it, he’s told us the Spirit will teach us all the things he hasn’t taught us yet, so maybe we’ll understand about the restoration of the kingdom in time, too.
Jesus has stopped at the top of the hill and turned to face us all. He is smiling that smile only Jesus has, the one that makes me feel taller, and safer, and able to do anything he wants. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you.”
Oh, no!! I gasp and then hold my breath as my head begins to tip back on my neck. Jesus is rising in the air! I stare until my eyes burn, losing all sense of the crowd around me. I must never, never forget that smile! I must bear it with me always. I choke up a little as I hear his last audible words:
“Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
I have a hand over my mouth, and tears are pouring down my face. I can’t see him anymore. Will I ever see him again? I become aware that hundreds of others surround me, all faces gazing up, all breaths suspended.
I am startled to hear a voice, and my head snaps around to look at two strange men, clothed in white. They look—could they be—? "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven?”
Well, I—where else can I look? My Lord has left!
The men smile, and it’s almost like looking at Jesus. “This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven."
I breathe again. He’s coming back! That’s right, he always did say he was coming back. Slowly, reluctantly, we turn away from the hill to walk back to Jerusalem. I notice that many of the crowd are streaming off in different directions.
By the time we reach Jerusalem, there are only 120 of the 500 we had with us on Olivet. Almost automatically, we go back to the upper room, and we start to pray…