“In the context of a commission, the blessing of peace isn’t incidental direction. It’s not the icing on the proverbial cake of ministry in the world. Blessing is part of the way Jesus’ followers reflect his character and embody his presence.”- Tina Boesch
When he [Jesus] had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.”- Luke 24:50-51 (NIV)
Tina Boesch concludes Chapter 7 of Given as she relates that many early Christian artists depict Jesus in the act of blessing. Most noteworthy, as the disciples glimpsed Jesus as He ascended to heaven, He was in the act of blessing them.
In Luke’s description of Jesus’ ascension, we translate the Greek word eulogein as ‘bless.’ However, Tina points out, in the classical sense eulogein presents a much broader application. Thus, in this context, it means to praise or speak well of someone. Yet, in the New Testament it’s only used in the classical Greek sense once (Romans 16:18). In all other uses, the Hebrew concept berakah – a vital power essential to life – stands behind the word.
Thus, in the Gospels, the word bless doesn’t just mean to speak well of someone. In addition, it means to call God’s grace upon someone. Writing in Blessing in the Bible, Claus Westermann explains the historical context for Jesus’ blessing during the Ascension. It parallels a traditional blessing given at parting:
“The one who gives the blessing imports a power that remains with those he leaves behind, and this power maintains the ties between those who are separated from each other. The specific meaning in this special situation where the Lord parts from his community lies in the fact that it is this crucified and risen Lord who is leaving his blessing and his peace behind with his community. . . by bestowing his blessing he is leaving power with them.”
Today’s question: In the context of a commission, how do you reflect Jesus’ character and embody His presence? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “The rule of reciprocity – two applications”