Departures. They evoke many different emotions. A rough start to a vacation is a delayed airline departure with the frustration that comes from having travel plans messed up from the get-go. Hospital departures however, often bring joy from the doctor’s news, “You’re being discharged today. You’re going home.” Watching a loved one departing for active military duty is filled with the heaviness of separation and the unthinkable prospects of possibility never seeing that each other again. For grandparents it is the sadness of standing at the end of the driveway, waving goodbye to adult children with the grandkids pulling away from the curb for a move across the country. We experience departures all throughout life until our final departure from this life which holds the full spectrum of feelings for those left to watch: sorrow yet a reluctant sigh of relief that a loved one has been released from a protracted time of suffering; grief though contained by the expectation of seeing that follower of Jesus once again in the presence of Christ.
We are now entering into the third week of the Lenten season theme, Shadows of Christ with messages bearing light upon the biblical characters who served as shadows of a reality to come – Jesus Christ. Beyond being merely hints of someone to come, these characters in Israel’s past were used by God to portray certain aspects of the Anointed One who was coming. In all the shadows of Christ however, no person was called with the expectation to be a shadow of His departure; to portray the reality of the brutality, the suffering and the means of death used for Christ’s departure.
Generations later, after the Old Testament shadows of Christ had long departed, a group of family, friends and followers stood on a hill and watched the life of the One who came to give life, ebb away. The shadows portrayed He would come. He had come and now He was going away. And they stayed until the bitter end when He uttered the words, “It is finished.”, before departing. While we all experience the departures of loved ones and friends, only a few had the horrific experience of watching the Son of God depart. The words He spoke the day before (John 16:7), “But I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I am leaving, for if I do not leave, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you; did not give comfort to their breaking hearts, it just made no sense.
Forty-three days later some of those same people stood and watch in joyful worship as their Lord and Savior departed, ascending to His glorious home.
While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they, after worshipping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising God. Luke 24:51-53
What was the cause of this emotional transformation from sadness to joy during those forty-three days? The resurrection. Friends, the resurrection of Jesus Christ makes all the difference. Christ’s departure from the tomb, His conquering power over death gives us promise, a certain future reunion. So, when we find ourselves facing another departure, no matter for the reason or cause, we know by faith, eventually, we will be together again, at the foot of Christ’s throne.
I’ll see you later.
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