Making Much of the Ascension


As we near the end of this five part series, we are reminded of the five major moments in the life of Christ: the Incarnation, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension, and Pentecost. In this blog post we will be making much of the Ascension of Christ.

Of all of the major moments in the life of Christ, probably the one that is least celebrated or mentioned is the Ascension. The story of Jesus’ ascension is told briefly in Acts 1:6-11.

Acts 1:6-11
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking 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.”

Traditionally, the Day of Ascension is celebrated by the church on the fortieth day after Easter Sunday (Acts 1:3). In our tradition, however, most of the times it comes and goes without mention or a thought. So why should we stop and take time to make much of the Ascension? Here are three reasons why it is worth making much of this day.

First, we believe that Jesus was resurrected not in spirit, but physically, in human form. Then, in human form he ministered and appeared to many people for forty days. After those forty day, in human form, he ascended into heaven. This means, that at this very moment, Jesus Christ the second person of the Godhead is still in human form and sitting at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). When we gather together on Sundays and recite Hebrews 4:14-16, and proclaim that we have a Savior who can sympathize with us, we cannot proclaim that fully apart from the Ascension. Our Savior will never not be human again. Everything that we talk about when we talk about the Incarnation is eternally true. God has become like us and taken on human form and even now he is robed in flesh.

Second, the scars of the Crucifixion still bear witness on his body. Thomas was able to see and touch the wounds of Jesus in his resurrected body (John 20:27). When we are united together in the new heavens and the new earth, it will not be difficult to spot Jesus. He will be the one with the cross-patterned scars. When he ascended to heaven, he ascended bearing the scars of our redemption; scars that he will bear and we will cherish for eternity.

Third, Jesus did not ascend into heaven and into retirement. He ascended because he still has a job to do. While he upholds the universe by the word of his power, he is also praying for you. The mouth that is keeping Mars from rocketing into the Sun and making sure the flowers have enough pollen from the bees, is also whispering to God the Father on your behalf (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). Hebrew 7:25 says poetically that this is why Christ now lives: to pray for you. Theologically this is called “intercession” and it is the moment-by-moment application of what Jesus did on the Cross. The atonement for our sins was done once-and-for-all and Jesus’ prayer for us to the Father is the constant work of Jesus’ heart for his people. When you sin, Jesus tells the story of redemption over again to God the Father and reminds him that you are forever his because of what he has done. It is not because God the Father is displeased, but because he loves to hear the story that Jesus loves to tell.

Human flesh, the scars of redemption, and the constant prayer of Jesus Christ for his people all reveal the fullness and the warmth of Christ’s heart towards those who are his. From eternity past, this was the plan that the Father and the Son agreed to: that Jesus should come as a man, die a horrible death, rise again as the victor over death and sin, and ascend to heaven to constantly tell the story of the love of God, over and over. All of this is what is celebrated in the Ascension.
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