The Ascension

Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast - as you really are. (1 Corinthians 5:6,7)

Yeast puffs up and affects all that surrounds it. It is a picture of spiritual pride and arrogance. But there is now a new way, Jesus Christ. He is absolute perfection, totally lacking in this old yeast and we are asked to follow likewise.

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth. (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)

During the Passover meal he identifies with the bread without yeast, the unleavened bread, the matzoh, although most Christians (except, curiously, the Catholics), when sharing the bread of Communion, choose to do so with leavened bread, matzoh with added extras. It is these "extras", these additions to the pure faith of the apostles, that have caused such damage to the Church since the early days, and why Christianity still walks with a limp.

In a sense the earliest Christians, the apostles and their followers from the Book of Acts, were to start life in much the same way as the Children of Israel, the Jewish Nation. Each were provided with the Truth, from the finger of God at the time of Moses and from the Son of God Himself for the Church. In both cases things were to go wrong as a result of the pure message being polluted by the yeast or leaven of pagan worldviews.

Oh, how things could have been so different! We move to the early pages of the Book of Acts.

There they stood in the first glimmer of twilight, eleven men who would change the World. Eleven men, shivering in the evening chill, in that olive grove on that hilltop overlooking the Holy Temple of Jerusalem. The twelfth, also shivering, but different. He was the one who had died and then risen.

After all, Jesus had appeared to them regularly over the last 40 days, teaching them, instructing them, mentoring them. The Eleven had so much to learn in so little time, important things that each would spend the rest of their lives teaching others, in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the ends of the Earth. And that time had just come to an end.

The last question Jesus had to answer was delivered by Simon, also known as the zealot.

"Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

Jesus addressed his answer to the whole group.

"It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:7-8)

Three voices responded in unison. Each was cut short by what happened next. Eleven men held their breath, their eyes slowly arcing heavenwards as Jesus ascended to Heaven.

Suddenly a voice, a deep textured voice, startled them back to reality. Two men, dressed in white, were standing before them and were speaking in unison.

"Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven."

You could have heard a pin drop, eleven men in complete silence, shock and bewilderment. They were by now quite used to unusual occurrences, but this one had a finality to it that gave an uncertain assurance.

Jesus had gone, they were on their own now, armed with the memories and teachings of the divine man who had walked with them for three years. Soon another divine helper, the Holy Spirit, was going to appear on the scene to empower them for the task of preaching the Truth to the world that surrounded them.

Here they were, every one of them a Jew brought up under Roman occupation. All were, to various degrees, students of the Holy Scripture, more so now that Jesus had opened them up to ways that combined old wisdom with new understandings.

Steve Maltz
June 2013

(This is an abridged extract from Steve's book How the Church Lost the Truth)

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