So I have to admit something when it comes to Brad LeDuc. I had spent all of 5 minutes with him and I liked him. He’s just that kind of guy. Soft-spoken. Humble. Insightful. Curious. Kind.
Then I saw his work. Intriguing. Perceptive. Ridiculous. Ascended comes in as the largest painting of the bunch. 30” wide, 48” tall. And the color explodes off the panel board. You are overwhelmed when you first see it because your brain is trying to take it all in and it just can’t. We’ve had this painting around for 2 weeks in the church and I find myself just sitting in the Cafe staring at it.
Brad did an outstanding job unpacking the painting for us. If you want to listen to the whole interview, you can find it here. He covers from how he got involved in the project, his creative process, as well as how to impress your date by evaluating art (this alone makes it worth watching).
Spoiler alert: Brad is a huge reason of why this series turned out the way it did.
4 Big Thoughts on Ascend
The Ascension replaces the last picture of Jesus for the disciples.
The last public image of Jesus was him lifted up on a cross, naked, beaten, and broken. At the ascension, they see Him lifted up alive, whole, and victorious. It was not just about providing more historical, physical evidence of his resurrection. It was about giving them a true glimpse of how he will be returning.
It opened door for the Spirit to descend.
Jesus said it was good if he went away which made no sense at all at the time. The only reason it DOES make senses is when we realize that the Spirit comes to indwell EVERY believer. LeDuc captures this perfectly with the cage open in the chest of one of the disciples. There is an emptiness inside us, a prison that we feel locked inside and the Spirit comes to fill us and release us from that prison.
Jesus’ kingdom is spiritual, not political.
Need anymore evidence that Jesus cares more about the condition of mankind’s heart than his political system? He just rose from dead rendering any weapon against him powerless. The Pharisees nor the Roman government had nothing to stop Him. It would have been the perfect time to march up to Rome and take over the world. Instead, Jesus’ ascends. Different kingdom, different vision, different rules. He had a different mission – to connect people to the Father relationally. All people.
It empowered the church on its Mission.
It’s amazing how the Church still needs a reminder of this today. The mission of the church was not to build political kingdoms or to cocoon itself from the world. It was to be IN the world as His witness. Most kings want people to show up at their doorstep and bring them gifts. This King gives gifts and sends people out.
Final Random Musings on Ascended
I’m not sure why more messages aren’t about the ascension. Part of it may be is that there are only a few verses on the event. Hard to build a series of messages around that. I included myself in that category as I can only think of one message I’ve ever preached solely on the Ascension. That’s pretty pathetic, isn’t it?
But it’s a key piece of who Jesus is because it puts politics and patriotism in their proper place. Can you imagine if the early church functioned how most American Western Culture Churches function today? Only Jews. Only Monarchy. Only Men. Only Local. Yes, the early church had their issues (master/slave, male/female, Jew/Gentile) that the Spirit had to correct and in some cases bust through – Acts tells this story well. But from the start, Jesus had no real platform or use for politics or patriotism – particularly the blind kind.
It was about heart transformation, giving people the opportunity to be changed by the Spirit into the image of Christ. All peoples. That’s still the mission of the church today.