“When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem…” – Luke 9.51
The Greek word used in this verse, and translated by English as “taken up”, is the Greek word ἀναλήμψεως, which literally means “up-taking”. In our usage today, we might think of the idea of “uploading to the cloud”. This is not as far-fetched as you might think, since the Christian tradition, and several mainstream translations of this passage, prefer to translate ἀναλήμψεως as “the Ascension”, which Luke details in Acts chapter one. Notice there, that it is not exactly clear what happens to Jesus when he ascends, since the text says that “he was taken up into the clouds out of their sight” (Acts 1.9).
One explanation as to what happened to Jesus when “he was taken up” and disappeared into a cloud, is that he was picked up by a spaceship. Not too long ago saying such a thing would be laughable, but in light of our expanding understanding of the universe, and the high likelihood that we are not alone here, the spaceship idea has become, to my mind, a very plausible explanation.
Of course there are other explanations – such as that Jesus was transferred into a different dimension, perhaps by way of a worm-hole-like energy-link. Or, that Jesus’ resurrection body allowed him to travel at the speed of light, as light. Whatever the attempted explanation, such a simple phrase as “taken up” embedded in the Gospel reveals that there is a lot more going on cosmologically behind and above the story than we might discern at first. It also brings a profound new depth to the Gospel saying that “unless you are born from above, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (John 3.3).
Humility is a the practical up-take for us today. In the light of the bigger scale of things beyond us, it is wise to look up and ask for help. It is wise to not get so caught in the day-to-day concerns of life on planet earth, with all its stress and tumult, violence and recurrence of immature behaviors rooted in fear and greed. It is wise for us to recognize that all the joys and delights and love of this lifetime are not just an end in and of themselves, but a means to remember and discover that we are seeded here on this earth to develop and to aspire toward our own further ascension in Christ.
And lastly, please don’t hear “rapture” when you read our further “ascension.” That’s not at all what I have in mind.
Safe travels, and…Godspeed.
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