I’ve got friends in low places, where the whiskey flows and the beer chases… So Jesus sang as He ascended to the right hand of the Father. Often times Christians think of Jesus’ ascension as a grand goodbye. Maybe the disciples themselves thought that as they looked up. It would make sense. That’s where God belongs, right? Far from this mortal coil. Far from sinners. God belongs up there, right?
Jesus did not go anywhere when He ascended. His reception was not a change of address but a promotion as ruler of all things! Name above names and all that. He isn’t actually sitting at God’s right hand either. That was (and is) a popular phrase for having authority.
As Jesus tell the disciples, “All authority has been given to me…” Jesus reigns now. Not a molecule moves without His direction. Say it to yourself, “Jesus reigns.” The pandemic, the political chaos, the strange sightings of UFOs, Biden’s ascendency, Trump’s fall. Everything is orchestrated by our Lord. For what purpose? Yours! The church, the body of Christ.
This great king above kings calls you His friend! He no longer calls you servants but friends! (John 15) Even us in low places; sinners, mortal, poor disciples, Jesus has befriended us. He has tied his destiny to ours. In baptism, St. Paul tells us that we are united in His death and resurrection. Where He is, there we are. Just like that friend who left your small town and became powerful, rich, important, yet still benefits you. That’s Jesus. But unlike your now famous friend who forgot the little people, Jesus remembers!! Even the thief on the cross. I’ve got friends in low places. We have a friend in the highest place.
But it gets tough. Wouldn’t you like to see Jesus like the disciples did? Would that improve your faith? Wouldn’t you like to hear Jesus say, “I forgive you,” when you confess exactly what you did that is bothering you?
Oftentimes people talk about Jesus as if he is gone. He went away and He is coming back, we are told. But that’s not really accurate. Jesus did not go away. At the end of Matthew what does He say? “Lo, I am with you always!” Or when He says in John 20, “as the father has sent me, I am sending you…” He isn’t giving us warm fuzzy thoughts. Jesus doesn’t talk like that. He does what He says. He is with us always! He actually has multiplied himself. He sends his friends to befriend others.
Jesus is more active and present in the world now than He was before He ascended. When someone tells someone else that they are forgiven by the blood of Christ, it is absolutely no different than if Jesus said it. When someone helps someone else with a new coat or a warm hug, it is literally and absolutely no different than if Jesus himself was doing it. His Church, that is believers, the Body of Christ, is the very real and physical presence of God in this world!
You are His hands, His feet, His mouthpiece. Through us, even Garth Brooks, Jesus speaks, heals, gives hope and peace. Afterall, Jesus has friends in low places and a good friend doesn’t leave them high and dry. Our good friend truly holds our hand through His church to that glorious reunion on the last day. We have a friend in high places!