The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:16-20)

Up the disciples go, one more time ascending a mountain with Jesus. Did the disciples notice the similarity with the mountain where Moses was given the Law? Perhaps they did but their hearts are shocked by the impossible: a Man had died on another mountain, Calvary. He had gone down to the grave, to the depths of death. Now they had seen Him alive, they touched Him, they spoke with Him, they shared meals with Him … and now He is ascending to Heaven, to the heights of life where God the Father reigns. Just like Moses, He has given them a new Law. This new Law comes from the new power, all power given to Him by the Father: make disciples, baptize them, teach them to obey Him. And then the promise: “I am with you always until the end of the age.”

He orders them to baptize the millions of disciples that are coming to Him and His Church. They are to baptize them in the name of the Triune God revealed to them by this Man. His promise begins with the name of God:

“I AM with you always until the end of the age.”

He says εἰμι (eimi, I am) Strong explains:

“I am, exist. The first person singular present indicative; a prolonged form of a primary and defective verb; I exist.” [ in #1510 ]

In Exodus 3:14 God said to Moses:

God said to Moses, “I AM who I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my NAME forever,
the NAME you shall call ME
from generation to generation.

And now, Jesus the Christ was saying to them: “I AM with you always until the end of the age” in His impossible ascension towards the clouds after His impossible Resurrection. The Man they had met early one morning by the shores of Gennesaret was leaving them, going to Heaven on His own power. Owner of the sea, the wind, the sky, Our Lord. It was too much to take in. I do not blame them for doubting their own senses. No one has ever been at the center of history, no one has ever seen the entire universe make a complete u-turn. The energy of that moment cannot be described!

Brothers and sisters: May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to His call, what are the riches of glory in His inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of His great might, which he worked in Christ, raising Him from the dead and seating Him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave Him as head over all things to the Church, which is His body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way. (Ephesians 1:17-23)

Logos incarnate has entered into the grave and has come out dragging the carcass of Death. The fullness of His power ready to subdue all the enemies of Creation before the end of the age. The Church, His friends are there to see Him ascend. As He rises like the sun He commands them to conquer the world with the Gospel. Souls will ascend behind them generation after generation. Ordinary men and women will know the life that never perishes. With Him, with His blessing, we will begin an adventure that will never end.

Up! Up! Ascend with Him in the Spirit, higher, deeper! Who can even guess what glories is He inviting us to live!

The Transfiguration by Raphael Sanzio, ca. 1520, detail.