Mattia Preti style is intensely dramatic and unites realism, expression, grandeur and theatricality. This is his “Christ in Glory”.
Acts 1 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.’
1 Thess 5 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety’, destruction will come on them suddenly, as labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
"This is not ‘good-bye!’ This is ‘see you later!’ " said the angels. With this promise the church had a double blessing. They knew the Holy Spirit would soon arrive, and they had the certain promise that Jesus himself would come again in the same manner they had seen him go. With the ascension, Jesus’ thirty-three years on earth were ended until such time as he would return to set up his millennial reign of peace.
Is there a bit of rebuke in the angels’ question: "Why do you stand looking up into heaven?" So many across the past two thousand years have asked about the "when" of Jesus’ second coming. They are fervently thumbing their prophecy books, plotting their time-lines, scanning the skies watching for his return. "That’s such a pointless activity," said the angels. "Jesus will come as he went . . . when he’s good and ready. In the meantime you have much work to do." In a few days, the Holy Spirit would descend in power. The wind and flame would empower the church for its conquest of a fallen world.
How different the world might have been had not these early witnesses of the ascension obeyed the words, "Quit looking up into the sky!" In awe of the heavenly messenger, they indeed stop looking.
Still, the courageous work of sharing God’s love must find all believers sometimes taking a quick glance at the sky. You just never know when he will come again!!
Lord, empower me. Even on this day before Easter, send me out into the world. Come whenever you want to. I will be most glad to see you.