If they hadn't had a wake-up call, Jesus' disciples might have missed out on some very important things.
as retold by Deborah
I told you earlier, Theophilus, about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning until the day when he was raised up, after having instructed his apostles through the Holy Spirit.
After his suffering he spent forty days with them — giving clear proof that he was alive — telling them about the kingdom of God. While he was with them he insisted that they not leave Jerusalem, “Wait here for the Father’s promise. I’m telling you this,” he said, “John baptized with water, but soon you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
When they were all together, his disciples asked him, “Lord, will you restore the kingdom to Israel now?”
He replied, “It isn’t for you to know when God will decide to act. However, you will be given great strength when the Holy Spirit comes to you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After saying this, he was raised up and a cloud hid him from their sight.
As he was going away, they realized that two men dressed in white were standing with them. They said, “What are you Galileans doing standing there staring up at the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up into heaven, will return the same way as you saw him go to heaven.”
So the disciples left the Mount of Olives and went back to Jerusalem.
Several years ago a friend sent me a link to a site that was being used to assess the visual acuity of college students. As an absolute sucker for “see what you can do” quizzes, I immediately went to the testing page.
Once there you are directed to click on a video of several students clad in jeans and either black or white shirts. Your task is really quite simple: just count how many times the players dressed in white pass two basketballs between them. The action is fast-paced and it is necessary that you focus on what is happening on screen.
Those of you who have seen the film and taken the test will remember the outcome. For those of you who haven’t seen the video quiz, I strongly encourage you to take a couple of minutes right now to see how it plays out. The link to Professor Simons’ visual acuity assessment page is here.
[Spoiler alert: Please take the assessment challenge before reading further!]
Now a person might say that a certain outcome indicated an ability to ignore distractions when one is focused on a particular goal. Or you could admit that you missed seeing something (a big something!) that was right in front of your eyes.
As for me, I have to confess that I didn’t see hide nor hair of the gorilla until I watched the video the second time. Though I did notice that the playing field briefly seemed to become more crowded, even that didn’t alert me to the fact that a change had taken place.
I had to be told to look at the situation differently.
Through the magic of video recording, I had the opportunity to watch it all unfold again, and to see what I missed. Otherwise I would have never witnessed a Major Event that took place in plain sight. Otherwise I might never have believed all that people said about it afterward.
If I hadn’t been told to look again — to see things differently — I would have gone away knowing how many times the basketball was caught, but completely ignorant of the whole purpose for which the presentation was devised. In short: I would have missed the whole point!
And I wonder.... What else have I missed seeing?
It seems as if the same was happening with the disciples as Jesus was going away. So fixated were they on his departure that they forgot that they were staying. Focusing on what the Lord had done in the past, they failed to see what they were called to do in the present.
The two fellows in white issued a wake-up call to the disciples; turning their attention to the (big) work at hand. And, as I read it, these messengers were also encouraging them to take a closer look at Jesus’ ministry; the ministry they were now called to undertake.
He had not begun “on high” — the Lord didn’t fall to earth from a passing cloud, but arose from within the community. He did not throw thunderbolts from heaven, but walked humbly upon the earth. His family was working class, his village small, his followers were few; but his words, his faith, his compassion and his love had changed their lives.
The kingdom of heaven came to them while they weren’t looking, it appeared in their midst, not somewhere far away in time or distance. It was clad in simple words and inexpensive garments: God’s power and glory was hidden in plain sight.
And Jesus had now passed the ball to them.
Those first Christians were not going to find “this Jesus” by standing in one place, staring helplessly up at the sky. They had to open their eyes, broaden their horizons, and remember what he taught them. They had to seek his power and his promise within their everyday lives.
We can easily miss something big — something hugely important, when our attention is focused elsewhere. If we have a narrow view of divine goodness and mercy, if we set limitations on our compassion and forgiveness, if we place restrictions on how much God loves and whom..... chances are there’s a lot we’re missing. Chances are we’re failing to see Christ’s glory revealed in our daily lives.
The Beloved is in our midst wherever we are; in the office, the classroom, the grocery store, the garden, the garage. God is strolling through our life on city streets and sidewalks, on playgrounds and assembly lines, in hospital rooms and prison cells. Wherever we are, God is there; a holy Surprise, waiting to be discovered, hidden in plain sight.
Virtual prayers and real-time blessings,
Where might the Good News of Christ be hidden in your life?