By Russell Waldrop
You have just returned to work after some time off and you are standing around the water cooler sharing highlights with your colleagues. During the chitchat, two senior employees approach your group and ask: “Why are you standing around staring at the water cooler. Get back to work! The boss is coming back.”
Note any parallels between that scenario and this scripture?
“After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘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.’” (Acts 1:9-11, NIV)
Easter was not intended to be a break from the work we are called to do. We know what we have done to Christmas: Jesus remains a baby for two months, demanding nothing. Similarly, at Easter, we may “look up into the sky” too long.
What is the post-Easter “work” that Jesus has commissioned us to do and for which he will hold us accountable when he returns? Two of his post-resurrection comments, one to Simon Peter, the other to all the disciples, may help us refocus our energy toward the work he expects of us.
To Peter, still struggling with the guilt of his fireside betrayal, Jesus said: “Feed my lambs and sheep,” and “Follow me!” (John 21:15-19). To all his disciples, he said in the Great Commission, “… and teach[ing] them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt. 28:20)
Now, that’s a lot of work! We are to continue caring for others who follow Jesus and we are to offer everyone else the opportunity to do so. That includes teaching the Sermons on the Mount and on the Plain, the parables and everything else he had already commanded.
Indeed, why stand we here so long at the water cooler?