“While He was going, they were gazing into heaven…” Acts 1: 10a (HCSB)
He fixed his eyes upward, stood firmly on the ground, and gazed at what must have been the most spectacular sight his eyes had ever beheld. His mind filled with wonder and his heart filled with joy that Jesus was alive and yet he was sorrowful about His departure. He was also a little bit nervous about the task he was just commissioned to do (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8). Peter watched with the other disciples as his friend, teacher, master, and Savior ascended to Heaven in a cloud.
It had not been that long ago that Peter and the other disciples were there with Him in Gethsemane on that dark and dreadful night the soldiers took Him away. He could remember watching from a distance as Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin accused and interrogated in the midst of a taunting crowd. Others who were there spoke about Barabbas, the insurrectionist and murderer who was pardoned while Jesus took his place and the crowd yelled “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” They told about how the soldiers mocked, flogged, and spat on Him.
The women who loved and followed Jesus were there along His journey to Golgotha, mourning at the sight of His thorn-pierced head and brutally beaten body. They even remembered the words He spoke to them. Simon, the Cyrenian was there, forced to carry His cross. And when He arrived at Golgotha, there were the soldiers, mocking Him and casting lots for His clothes. There were criminals there, too, crucified on either side of Him; one condemning Him and the other requesting to be remembered in paradise. John was there at Mary’s side comforting her as she watched her firstborn son hanging on the cross, dying on that terrible hill. Joseph and Nicodemus were there to take Jesus’ lifeless body from the cross, wrap Him in linen cloth, and lay Him in a brand new tomb. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome were there at the tomb early on Sunday morning coming to anoint His body.
You know who was also there? I was there. Not physically, of course; but because of my sin and need for a Savior, I was there! Were you there? Were YOU there when they crucified, my Lord? Beloved, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). My sin was there in the garden at Gethsemane when they arrested Him, when He stood accused before the Sanhedrin, when they beat Him and nailed His mangled body to the cross. My sin was there when He shouted to Heaven and breathed His last breath. My sin was there when the sun refused to shine, the earth shook violently, and the veil of the temple was split in two. My sin was there when He was buried in the tomb. And I would have been among the disheartened, who thought that all hope of restoration was buried in the grave, wondering if all was lost.
But, Praise be to God, that I was also there, when early that Sunday Morning, He rose with all power in His hands and redeemed me! Death and the grave were conquered, my sin and your sin remembered no more and the enemy was defeated. My fellow believers not only were we there in His Death, Burial and Resurrection, but Praise the Lord we will also be there with Him when He returns (1Thessalonians 4:13-18). Praise the Lord!
By Abigail George