Ready | Devotion #2: What?
Brett Eberle | Production Director
I have attended a few churches throughout my life, and something that they all had in common is that they did some sort of Easter production. My parents and I have participated in more Easter productions than I can remember. Ever since I was hired on at The River, I have gotten to be more involved with the planning of what we call the “Passion Play.” Starting somewhere in October, we have weekly meetings about what the Passion Play is going to be in the coming year and every year without fail the question of whether or not we can ascend Jesus at the end of the play will be discussed. When I began researching what the ascension was really like, I realized that it lined up with many of the qualifications that we have for the play. It is good to look at what a few of those qualifications are.
Acts 1:6-11 says, “So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’ And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’”
If you read our Fallen book that was used to go along with our Fallen series, then you know that Lucifer was cast out of Heaven like a bolt of lightning. Knowing that is how he was cast out, it is logical to think that Jesus may have ascended in the same manner. Maybe it was more like Superman jumping into flight, breaking Mach 3 before his feet leave the ground as he takes off. While literally jumping into Heaven may have been super cool, the Bible tells us that is not how it happened. Verse 9 tells us that the disciples watched as Jesus was carried out of sight. It was slow and deliberate. This has always caused us problems in the play because we always want to have a song that goes with the ascension and attempting to lift someone two stories through the ceiling takes an extremely long song.
Verse 11 tells us that Jesus will return in the same manner that He was taken to Heaven. This has never caused us any problems in the play but last year I had the privilege of traveling to Israel and one of the first places that we went was the Mount of Olives, where Jesus ascended to Heaven. As we stood at the top, we looked out, and the first thing you notice is thousands upon thousands of graves where people have chosen to be buried as close as possible to where Jesus will return.
One of the toughest parts about making the ascension happen in the play was finding a chance to put the harness on the actor playing Jesus. When we choose to do the ascension in the play, we are then forced to portray the things that Jesus did in the days before He ascended and hiding a harness is not an easy thing to do. The fact that the ascension was physical takes away any ability for us to portray it using the screen or flashing lights to hide the fact that there is a thick cable hanging from the ceiling.
While the ascension may be an incredibly difficult task for us to pull off as a production staff, we know that it happened and it was a visible, physical, and deliberate act as Jesus went home. Just do not forget what the angels told the disciples, Jesus is coming back the same way that He left. It will be visible, physical, and deliberate.