So sin bends us to the earth. At first, with the pressure of temptations, from which the knees bend. Then – with shame, when the face is lowered and looking at the height of heaven is ashamed. Still, sin did not become a deed, was not committed as a fact, it also lives only in the form of a thought in the heart, like a worm in an apple, and a person lowers his eyes.
So it was with Cain, when the cruel pain of resentment stung his pride. “Cain was greatly distressed, and his face was full” (Gen. 4: 5). Knowing the human heart, seeing what thoughts are ripening in the depth inaccessible to the human gaze, God warns Cain against the sin originating in him. “If you do good,” says the Lord, “then will you not lift your faces? And if you do not do well, then sin lies at the door; he draws you to you, but you rule over him ”(Gen. 4: 7).
What happened after Cain, we remember. And the success in the affairs of the earth, which then differed Cain’s offspring, is partly a consequence of his once lowered eyes. Hence the success in cattle breeding, metallurgy, and the manufacture of fabrics that distinguished Cainites. Once dropping his face to the ground with shame, Cain eventually became the father of successful civilization in the affairs of earth.
Such a natural movement of the head and eyes, like a glance at the sky, is not equally given to everyone. A man tormented by conscience bends to the ground much more naturally, lowers his eyes. Heaven, this “throne of God” (Matthew 5: 34), is recognized to be pure and holy. Therefore, the prodigal son, composing a penitential prayer, prepares to say: “Father! I have sinned against heaven and before you ”(Luke 15: 18).
And the Ascension straightens our bowed backs. It makes you look up. And with joy.
Looking up and witnesses of Christ’s suffering. The mountain itself is high. From below upwards, everyone who stands at its foot looks at the mountain. The cross rises above the mountain itself. Christ said: “When I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself” (John 12:32). He still draws human souls to Himself, and when we raise our faces to Calvary, our eyes are full of tears.
But not so in Ascension. Then, holding His long look, the apostles returned to Jerusalem “with great joy. And they were always in the temple, glorifying and blessing God ”(Luke 24: 52–53).
Christ is alive! Christ emerged victorious from the struggle with death! True, the Kingdom of Israel, he will not arrange this summer. And in general, He creates many things that people are not prepared for His works. And now he commands not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for “power from above.” He does not say everything at once, but what he says is not immediately clear. His thoughts are not our thoughts. But the main thing – He is alive and promised to be with us until the end of the century! And if so, then nothing is scary.
Christ ascends and people look to heaven. Here is a momentous picture. There is nothing great and interesting at this hour for the apostles on earth. All the most important for them is where Christ goes back.
How interesting that the pagans once looked into the night sky, and this sky with the light of a special star led them to the Baby Messiah. The first coming is proclaimed by a dark sky adorned with stars. By the heavens, but already clear and by day, the Second Coming will be proclaimed. Here the angels in white robes say to the apostles: “Men of Galilee! What are you standing and looking at the sky? This Jesus, who ascended from you to heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him ascend to heaven ”(Acts 1: 11).
The feast of Ascension becomes the feast of the announcement of the Second Coming. This is now the main goal of raising the eyes to the sky.
But let’s not forget the Cross of Calvary. He, too, as we remember, forced to raise his face to the sky. Cross, Ascension, Second Coming. On the last day, all these events will merge into one, because before the glorious appearance of Christ for judgment on the world, “the sign of the Son of Man (the Cross, that is) in heaven will appear; and then all the tribes of the earth shall weep and see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with great power and great glory ”(Matt. 24:30). They will cry, because so far they have always looked at the earth, they have done all their work only for the sake of the earth, they measured their earthly success. To those who have not forgotten about heaven and the One who ascended there after the Resurrection, the Lord says: “When it begins to come true, then rise up and lift your heads, because your deliverance is coming” (Luke 21:28).
Wail and straighten, sinners. Straighten all the backs, redeemed by the blood of the Son of God; all who have not forgotten about this great price of redemption; all who say unto Christ, “Hom, come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev. 22: 20).
We no longer need to crawl in the dust and stand on all fours. Dignity is returned to us, and adoption is presented to us. The vertical coordinate is communicated by the ascended Lord to the thoughts of the believing human heart. And again the son of the Father returns to his home: “Bring the best clothes and put them on, and give the ring on his hand and shoes on his feet; and bring the fatted calf, and kill it; let us eat and have fun ”(Luke 15: 22).