12 July 2023 at 00:00:00 JST
“This certainty, this absolute certainty that I am loved by God. And feeling this peace in your heart despite all the temptations: God loves me. This signifies blessing.” In a divine service recently, the Chief Apostle cleared up some popular misunderstandings.
The Bible text for the divine service on 18 May 2023 in Chur, Switzerland, was an excerpt from the events of Jesus’ ascension: “And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven” (Luke 24: 50–51).
What Jesus took time for
After His resurrection Jesus remained with His disciples for a period of forty days. Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider explained what Jesus wanted to show and achieve with this:
- “He resurrected, He lives. Mankind did not manage to kill Him. He overcame death and the power of evil.”
- “Something has changed. I have a new body, the resurrection body: it has another dimension and is no longer bound by natural laws.”
- “In spite of everything that has happened, I am the same. I am still your friend, My love for you has not changed.”
- “He discovered that the disciples had not quite understood everything. He had to explain it to them again from the beginning and told them what had happened and what would happen in the future.”
- “He gave them a new task: if we are to be together forever, you must become like Me.”
Why the witnesses were there
“It was very important to Jesus that the disciples would witness His ascension,” the Chief Apostle said and explained:
- “No one had witnessed His resurrection, no one had seen it.” It was completely different at His ascension. “For the disciples it was clear: whoever is taken up in the cloud is with God. The cloud was the symbol of God’s presence.”
- “True salvation is to be with God in heaven, to have fellowship Him. This is the deep significance of the ascension experience.”
- “It is also an important part of our faith to know that Jesus Christ reigns with God.”
- “The disciples could have thought that He was using images when describing that He was close to the Father, that He was connected to God,” but the Ascension showed: “No, it’s not an image, it’s real.”
- “The last thing He did was bless them. That is, He promised them that He will give them everything they would need to come to Him.”
What blessing really is
The Chief Apostle then looked at the subject of blessing in detail. Some people understand blessing to mean money, health, and earthly prosperity. “Now Jesus comes and says: ‘I bless you with spiritual blessing.’” And that means that He gives us everything we need to come to Him: election, forgiveness of sins, rebirth out of water and the Spirit, Holy Communion, fellowship of believers. “I could list many more things,” the Chief Apostle said.
“Blessing is basically everything that helps us and what we need to be with Jesus forever,” he emphasised. “Blessing can therefore not be recognised in one’s prosperity, but in peace and spiritual strength.” Because: “Blessing is about our relationship with God and nothing else.”
Whom Jesus blesses
And what does it take to obtain this blessing? For one thing, to receive the blessing of God we must be like a child and assume that everything has been given to us by God. On the other hand, to receive the blessing of Jesus Christ we must believe in Jesus Christ. This belief in Jesus Christ extends from His incarnation to His return, the Chief Apostle said. And finally, those who want to experience real blessing must also keep the commandment of Jesus Christ and grow in love for God and love for their neighbour.
“It is as simple as that,” Chief Apostle Schneider concluded. “At least it is easy to say. Realising it is a bit more difficult. But we can do it if Jesus Christ blesses us.”
Author: Katrin Löwen
nac.today: New Apostolic Church International