Recently I went through my folio of narrative paintings with the purpose of making some disposition of them. This one I had shown only a few times. I suspect that my thoughts were mostly something like those of the scribes who focused upon the miraculous acts of Jesus.
The gospels of Mark and Luke dealt with His ascension into heaven after His return from His Father rather simply; “(Jesus) Led them to Bethany, he lifted up his hands and was carried into heaven.”
The Acts of the Apostles; ” Following this , two men clothed in white appear and tell the apostles that Jesus will return again. In the light of most writers purpose to portray the good news of salvation, any part of Christ’s ministry that does not relate to that purpose would pale in the shadow the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord.
To those of us who have had Christian loved ones die we can understand. We personally sense the loss even though we plan to spend eternity with them, we do not reminisce over their departure. The Ascension may seem anti-climactic in the light of His death, concluding on that note of sorrow and separation rather than of joy, victory, and triumph.
Jesus over a period of forty days appeared speaking of things concerning the Kingdom of God. Which, He said, “You have heard from me. You have been baptised by John with water, but you will be baptised with the Holy Spirit. You will receive the power when the Holy Spirit has come on you and you will be my witness. The book of Acts records what our Lord continued to do and teach through His body, the Church. He was allowed to correct the misconceptions held by his disciples.
The time for the Kingdom’s arrival was made clear. They had anticipated a literal physical reign upon the earth. The Ascension was, in part, a confirmation of Christ’s person and work and serves as a connecting link between the work of Christ in salvation and that of our sanctification; that which is still being done through His Spirit. The Ascension creates in our hearts a sense of expectation as we realize that He will return.
While this may seem less recognizable in the light of miracles, parables, and the wonders that he delivered to us through so many truly engaging accounts… which were the subject of so many of my other paintings; it is truly the capstone of all that went before.
Mary’s cry within the Garden; “What have you done with Him?” is answered by His resurrection from death. Our cry; “When will we yet see him?’ is answered by His ultimate return to earth; no longer as man -God, but the infinite Saviour of our souls.
No man can paint the beauty of that- it’s impossible.