May 4, 2008 Ascension Sunday – Luke 24:44-53; Acts 1:1-11
The Ascension of Christ is not something I grew up with, so perhaps for mainliners it’s just one of those esoteric Christian details that we can live just fine without, thank you. But in my reading and preparation for this coming Sunday I’m seeing three aspects of the Ascension that are important for us.
1. The Ascension means the restoration of the glory that the Son had before the Incarnation. It’s the return of Christ to sit at the right hand of the Father from when he REIGNS. Therefore it’s not just a human guy Jesus we remember and admire when he walked the earth once upon a time. It’s the risen and reigning Christ in glory that we worship.
2. The Ascension is the glorification of human nature in a way that had not happened before. Note well that the Word did not “unbecome” flesh – Jesus didn’t shuck off his “mortal coil” but transformed it into a spiritual body, and ascended into heaven with that body. In this way he points to our own destiny: not just heaven but a “new heaven and a new earth”; not just spirits but spirits with spiritual bodies. The “pioneer and perfecter of our faith” shows us our path and destiny in the Ascension.
3. The Ascension is the start of a reign that had not existed in that form before. Certainly the Word was at creation and all things were made through him. But not until the Ascension did the Word, still in the “new creation” flesh, begin its ministry of intercession for us. He intercedes with the Father on our behalf.
I think all of this flies in the face of modernism, which assumes it’s all pretty much up to us; that there is no operating sovereignty. In that view, Jesus left us and gee we admire him, and want to help him out as best we can (or have time for!), and we sure hope it all comes out alright. But the Ascension teaches that Jesus is the glorified Christ who rules, reigns, prepares a place for us, and actually prays for us. That alone boggles my mind, that the glorified One who broke the bars of hell and death, is now pulling for me.
Often at night before I go to bed I keep Jesus in my prayers. What a different mindset to meditate on the fact that I’m in his prayers.