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He Ascended into Heaven

May 17, 2021 | Joshua Wilson

If I were to say to you, “take sixty seconds and write out the major moments of Jesus’s life,” what would you include? I’m confident that you would put the virgin birth, the crucifixion, and the resurrection, among others. But how many of you would include the ascension?

In many ways, the ascension of Christ is the forgotten aspect of his life nowadays. And since we just recently observed Ascension Day (May 13), I thought it would be appropriate to dwell for a few minutes on this overlooked doctrine.

The Apostles’ Creed, the most well-known summation of basic Christian doctrine, includes the line, “he ascended into heaven.” An early hymn of the early church is seemingly recorded in 1 Timothy 3:16, where we read: “He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory(emphasis mine).

Clearly, there is something significant about the ascension. And it was a cause for much rejoicing among the disciples. We would be inclined to think that Jesus leaving would be something they mourned, but instead Luke tells us that after Christ ascended into heaven, “they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24:52-53). With great joy. The ascension of Christ should lead us to joyous worship! It reminds us that Christ returned to the Father, that Christ reigns as our Mediator, that Christ sends the Spirit, and that Christ anticipates his return. And what does that mean for you and I?

  1. Because Christ ascended to the Father, your salvation is secure.

It is proof that Christ is Lord over all, the culmination of his exaltation, and he reigns and rules over all things. He is right now at the right hand of the Father, as the only mediator between God and man, and “he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25). Romans 8 makes this clear as well, connecting the intercession of Christ to the truths that we are not condemned and that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ (Romans 8:34-39). Because Christ ascended to the Father and lives to make intercession for us, we can rest totally confident that we are kept by him.

  1. Because Christ reigns on high, you are seated with him.

Christ is exalted to the highest place and bears the most excellent name, and he reigns over every speck of dust in the universe. He is seated at the right hand of the Father on high – and Ephesians 2:6-7 says that God “raised us up with [Christ] and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” Even though we live right now on this earth, in some way, we share in the glorious reign and authority of Christ. In light of this, it seems rather absurd for us to cower in fear of men or acquiesce in devotion to sin. We have a greater master, one who possesses all the authority in the universe, and he invites us to share in that.

  1. Because Christ sends the Spirit, you are never alone.

Christ said that it would be better for him to leave so that he could send the Spirit (John 16:7) – a rather stunning claim to make! After Christ’s ascension, the Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son to indwell every believer in Jesus. The Bible says that, if you are a believer, your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19). Because of this, you are never alone. The Spirit of God lives in you, and this in fact is the grounding of the Great Commission that Jesus gives his followers: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). It is the presence of God that empowers our lives and our witness. And nothing can separate you from him.

  1. Because Christ is coming again, your future is certain… and your mission is necessary!

After Jesus ascended, the angels told his disciples, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). The Lord is coming again, the same way he left! When he comes, our faith will be made sight, and we will dwell in the presence of our Lord, with full joy and life, forever! We know the end of the story, and it is certain. Nothing that you face today can change that. The worst thing anyone can do to us is kill us, and that simply delivers us to the presence of our Lord faster.

As I write this, I sit looking out the window at the gorgeous clouds in the sky. I am reminded that Christ is coming again one day – it could even be today! – through the clouds, just like he left. But looking at the clouds, and remembering that our future is certain and our Lord’s return is imminent, should not lead us to twiddle our thumbs as we wait. Christ gave us a mission – that we would make disciples of all the nations – because when he returns, He will judge the living and the dead. He is coming again – soon! And that truth should give us both the confidence and the urgency to spread the gospel among our neighbors and to the nations.