When the first Star Wars film came out in 1977 one of the heroes was Obi-Wan Kenobi. He was a great old wizard who mentored and trained Luke Skywalker to be a Jedi. He was the guiding force in Luke’s life when all of a sudden he disappears. The question was how was Luke Skywalker going to handle this? How would he go on?
The same questions came up in Old Testament times with Moses leaving Joshua, Elijah leaving Elisha and Samuel leaving David. In all of these cases these young followers were left to continue on their own. How would they manage?
This is the same story we hear today when Jesus ascended into heaven. Jesus was the Great Master, the great hero. He was the conqueror of death itself. It seemed like Jesus and the disciples had the world at their feet after Jesus rose from the dead. Then what happens? Jesus leaves. One can only imagine what the disciples must have been feeling when they saw Jesus ascending into heaven. What are we going to do now? How can we carry on? They are now without their leader, their mentor, their hero and their best friend.
Imagine what life would have been like if Jesus had of stayed and was walking the earth right now. He would be around to answer our questions. He would be able to tell us what to do particularly when he had problems. But if we reflect further then we realise that Jesus could only be in the one place at the one time.
Obi-Wan Kenobi seemed to know what he was doing. After he left his spirit could be seen appearing in Luke Skywalker all the time. No longer confined to a physical body he could be anywhere when Luke Skywalker needed him. The other reason Obi-Wan Kenobi left was so that Luke Skywalker could now become the hero. This is why Old Testament figures like Moses, Elijah and Samuel left. It was so their young followers Joshua, Elisha and David could become heroes.
That is why eventually every parent, coach, boss, teacher and leader has to let go and move on so that a new generation of followers can take up the reins.
This is why Jesus left. He ascended into heaven so that his followers could carry on his mission. They could now become the heroes themselves doing Jesus’ work, spreading his good news and being filled with his spirit.
After a time the apostles also left and now through the generations that mission has now been passed on to us. We can do this because like the spirit of Obi-Wan Kenobi was always with Luke Skywalker, Jesus is with us wherever we go.