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Core 52 Chapter 38 - The Ascension

In 1995, Heather and I were blessed with the opportunity to visit the Holy Land.  We attended with a group of students from Florida Christian College (now JUFL) and several other people from churches around the state. Ironically, Fred Smith was one of those who attended, and the trip was led by his younger brother, James Smith – known by most of us from the college as “Doc Smith.”  (Needless to say, I have some marvelous memories of observing Fred and “Doc” in action, acting like typical brothers.  What good times!!)

During our time there, we visited many locations and cities known to have been places where Jesus visited, preached, lived and led.  We visited Capernaum, the Sea of Galillee, the Judean wilderness, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and many other historical Biblical sites.  We visited a presumed site of the church in Cana where Jesus performed His first miracle.  We also visited Bethlehem and saw the place where many believe Jesus was born.  And finally, we visited the traditional site of Calvary and the Garden Tomb, both located in modern day Jerusalem.

I thoroughly enjoyed the visit but walked away with a deeper conviction about something that relates to our reading from CORE 52 this week.  There was one place in particular that left me dumbfounded and also more resolute in my faith. It was both flabbergasting and foundational to me at the same time.

This location was the Chapel of the Ascension located in Jerusalem near the Mount of Olives.  This was the supposed site of the ascension of Christ into heaven, as recorded in the first chapter of the book of Acts and the focus of our reading for this week. Within this chapel is a ground marker with a wooden frame around it. It is known as the “Ascension Rock” and is the traditional historic site of the final place on earth where Jesus, the divine Son of God, stood.  Tradition tells us it was from this point that he slowly ascended into heaven as the apostles stood around and watched Him.  From photos, it is quite difficult to make out the shape of a right foot in the rock; but if you have visited the site, you can see it much more clearly. I can honestly tell you that it does look like a foot once stood in that place; there‘s no denying that.  That’s where I became flummoxed and perplexed.

So, you’re telling me that you really think Jesus’ foot, before He left for heaven, left a permanent impression in this rock?  You really want me to believe that this place is more holy than any other place you can think of because it was the last place Christ stood?  Really?

As confusing as that sounded and alarming as it was to put any sense of faith into a statement like that, my faith was just as solidified as I came to another conclusion.  My faith has zero dependence on any location here on earth. There is no object on this planet that steers my faith. There is no location on this giant rock that causes me to feel more holy. There is no holy shrine or marker that makes me believe anymore in my Savior.  Why? Because I serve a God who resides in no tomb, but rather on the throne in Heaven. I honor a Savior who left no mark on this planet for me to seek out more holiness, but instead marked my heart and soul with His Spirit, so He might call me His own.

I realized that day and rejoiced at the confirmation of knowing my faith is in a God not tied to any physical object here on earth, but rather an eternal God who uses the galaxy for a footstool and the clouds as an escalator.

The Ascension – often written off as a superstitious event added to the collection of hard to believe activities of Jesus – helps us confirm in our hearts even more the eternal presence of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  May it move us to obey Him, honor Him and love Him more and more each day.

- Pete Ramsey