THE KING RETURNS TO HEAVEN
 SO forty days passed by. Some of them were
days of wonder, when the Lord came and
talked with the disciples. Others were days
of expectation, when the disciples waited and
he did not come. Indeed, they knew not at
what moment or in what place he might appear.
Now he was suddenly present with them
in Judea, then in Galilee. Sometimes one of
them walking by the lake or going to pray in
the silence of the hills, would find the Lord
standing beside him. On one occasion he
made himself known to more than five hundred
disciples at once, most of whom were still
living when St. Paul was writing his epistles.
One purpose of these appearances was to
make them certain that he who had died upon
the cross had come to life again. They saw
him face to face, and heard him speak. Thus
they knew beyond all doubt that he was indeed
the Son of God. He who had lived so
 many quiet years at Nazareth, and had been a
carpenter there, earning his bread like other
men; he who had gone out preaching the
kingdom of God, and had taken them with
him, treating them as dear, familiar friends;
he whom the Pharisees and Sadducees had
hated and had brought at last to the death of
the cross,—he was the Son of God. He was
the Word of God; that is, by him God spoke.
And the Word was God. In him, their friend,
God dwelt here on earth. They had not understood it.
When his enemies had seized him,
his disciples had forsaken him and fled. But
now, seeing that death had no dominion over
him, they cried with Thomas, "My Lord and
Another purpose of the appearances was to
assure them that death is not the end. It seems
the end. The body dies, and so far as we can
see, the soul dies with it. There is no voice
nor answer after that. What we need is a
clear word from beyond the grave. We want
somebody to come back and tell us. Christ
came back, declaring that death is not a wall
 but a door. After we die we shall live again
he said, "Because I live, ye shall live also."
Then he gave his disciples their last instructions.
They were to go now and teach
what he had taught them. What they had
heard in secret, they were to proclaim
openly. Those who received the teaching
and believed, and desired to live in the new
way, they were to baptize. Thus they were to
initiate them into a new society. He had already
told them how they were to break bread
and eat it, and to pour wine and drink it, in
remembrance of him. This they were to do at
the meetings of the new society.
One day he took them out as far as Bethany.
They went again over the familiar way, out of
the Jerusalem gate, into the valley which had
been to them the valley of the shadow of
death, past the Garden of Gethsemane at whose
gate they had deserted him, and up the ascent
of the Mount of Olives, where palm branches
still lay withered by the side of the road. Men
who met them saw eleven disciples. The Master,
in the midst of them, they saw not. Only
 the disciples, who had the clear vision of faith,
saw him. They knew now the answer to the
question which one of them had asked, "Lord,
how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself to us,
and not unto the world?"
But there was one matter which still perplexed
them. The kingdom of God which
they had so long expected, and of which the
Lord had said so much, when and how was it
to come? Even now they could not get rid of
the old notion of a kingdom with a palace and
a throne, and a place of power among the nations.
So they asked him as they went, "Lord,
wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom
to Israel?" And he answered, "The
time is in the hand of the Father, and it is not
for you to know it. But the Kingdom is in
your own hearts and in the hearts of those
who shall receive your words. You shall be
the founders of it. You who to-day are poor,
and unknown in the great world, and hated
by many men, shall be given power from on
high, the power of goodness, and of love, and
of the grace of God. You shall be witnesses
 unto me, telling how I came, the Son of God,
from heaven, to give men life here and hereafter,
teaching them to live as I have commanded you,
showing my spirit in your lives.
And lo, I am with you alway, even unto the
end of the world."
When he had spoken these things, raising
his hands over his disciples in farewell and
blessing, while they beheld, he was taken up,
and a cloud received him out of their sight.
And while they looked steadfastly toward
heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood
by them in white apparel, saying, "Ye men of
Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven?
This same Jesus which is taken up from you
into heaven, shall so come in like manner as
ye have seen him go into heaven." And the
disciples remembered the saying, "A little
while, and ye shall not see me; and again, a
little while, and ye shall see me, because I go
to the Father." They began to understand it.
They began to see that the Lord had appeared
and disappeared during the forty days to teach
them to expect him always and everywhere.
 Into the cloud he went, and out of the cloud
he comes, the cloud of human need. They fell
upon their faces and worshiped the King of
Glory. Their hearts were full of faith and
love and joy. He had gone away out of sight
only to return invisible and to abide with them
and with us all forever.