Acts 1:9, Jesus Goes Up

And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

//In John’s Gospel, Jesus ascends to heaven at the moment of his resurrection. Mary spies him outside the tomb as he is on the way up, and Jesus’ present-tense reply to Mary is quite clear: “I am ascending.” In today’s verse in Acts, Jesus ascends 40 days later. But both stories agree on one critical component: Jesus went up.

I’ve often heard disbelievers ridicule this idea, and never quite understood the ridicule. Where is Jesus now, they say? Is he still going up, or has he hit the edge of the universe? If he had waited twelve hours to ascend, would he now be on the other side of the universe? If he lived in Australia, would he have descended instead of ascended?

Yes, it’s true, the story is a bit silly if you imagine a physical body floating around up there, and it’s true the universe is far bigger than what Bible writers pictured. You can’t escape the universe by rising through a window in the dome just beyond the clouds. But does their lack of understanding about the size and shape of the universe somehow negate the idea that Jesus went “up?” How many near-death experiencers describe their soul going sideways?

I’m not arguing for or against anything, I’m simply pointing out that Jesus (and the souls of believers such as that darling little kid in Heaven is for Real) aren’t flying around aimlessly; they’re heading somewhere specific, and the Bible has always been clear that heaven is just next door. Not far away at all. No further away than the channelers of today find it. It could be, quite literally, just above the clouds, eh? What do we know?

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