The Ascension of Jesus Christ is a key truth to unlocking what it means to be a Christian today/ live and love as a Christian. Jesus Christ is ascended on high. He is not walking on this earth but he is reigning above… He lived, he died, he was resurrected and he ascended to heaven…
One person said it this way: “The Ascended Jesus is the reigning Jesus. Of all the meanings of the ascension, this one is preeminent: Jesus has gone up to the right hand of God the Father, exalted above every name and power. He reigns.” (Gerrit Dawson)
Another person said, “His Ascension marked a stage in His revelation, but it only brought Him nearer to us. To have lingered among the early disciples would have limited His mission and sequestered Him from the later Church. As the Resurrection opened the grave, the Ascension opened heaven.” (anonymous)
The ascended Christ is a reason to look up. Learn the word aspiration! To aspire as a Christian is to look up to Christ, to be in awe of him, expecting him to instruct us. Our God reigns. Jesus Christ is alive: Our father, who is in heaven….for those who struggle on earth, transformation/comfort comes when we look to heaven… Listen to a few verses from Psalm 55. READ Ps. 55:4-8.
There is a special promise in the Ascension of Jesus for those who are suffering, hurting, discouraged by the world, personal suffering: Jesus is not indifferent to your struggle. He has endured great suffering and is thus the most merciful and sympathetic counselor. Take your cares to your ascended Lord who hears your prayers and can respond with all heaven’s authority. Acts 1:3 says, “After his suffering…”
To aspire is to look to heaven…because God is alive. “wait” is a key word in Acts 1:4… an expectant waiting. A waiting believing that Jesus Christ will speak. Don’t take matters into your hands trying to figure out your prideful solutions to undo the cares of this world, but wait for Jesus, the ascended Lord, to speak…. That’s aspiration, to look up, to expect, to believe, to wait, to worship….
The Ascended Christ gives a special promise, however, for what we are waiting for: The Holy Spirit (READ Acts 1:4-5). Jesus Christ now lives in us through the Holy Spirit. We look up, aspiring to see Christ, hear from Christ, worship Christ, but he empowers us to continue his work on this earth. READ Acts 1:8. We are Christ’s hands and feet through His Spirit…
Teresa of Avila said it this way: “Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion[ately] on this world. Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which he blesses all the world. Yours are the hands, yours are the feet, yours are the eyes, you are his body. Christ has no body now on earth but yours.”
Jesus in Acts 1:8 speaks of power to be a witness for Christ, to continue the work of the ascended Christ through the Holy Spirit, Christ who reigns over all. The throne of Christ is now in heaven, but he continues his work on earth through those who commit themselves to his reign.
John in the gospel of John has a wonderful perspective as he writes the story of Jesus on earth. He writes down the story of Jesus and the events of Jesus life knowing that in the end Jesus goes back to the father. Over and over again he records words of Jesus that at the time he was on earth the disciples probably did not get, but later after he was resurrected and ascended back to God they understood.
John 16:28: "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father."
John 20:17: Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.'"
John 14:2: "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” …. How’s that for a reason to aspire….
John 14:12: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father”…. An amazing verse…
John previews what it will be like living on earth with an ascended Lord! Beautiful. He is reigning today. Heaven has been opened through the ascension of Jesus.
In God’s world, what comes down must go up. As the Resurrection opened the grave, the Ascension opened heaven.” We are to be heavenly minded. We are to see Christ. We are to worship and exalt him. Acts 1:9 tells us that the disciples and many others literally saw Jesus Ascend to Heaven. This showed them and us that nothing would ever be the same. The ascension is a fact. The work of Jesus as a man on earth is now over. Now we are living in the age of the ascended Christ. There is a reason Luke divides his great work of Luke and Acts by the ascension of Christ. The same work but the earthly and heavenly Jesus are so different in scope. We are to look up to the ascended Christ, aspire, so we can look around on earth with greater clarity of what Jesus wants of us….
I have always loved the words of Acts 1:10-11. When I was a boy of 11-12-13 (I’m guessing), my father used to put together cantatas… and Easter cantata… year after year these were given to me to read… READ. I used to be mesmerized in wonderment at the idea of these two angelic figures chiding the disciples, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky?” The obvious unspoken meaning is that looking up is not to totally consume us, but look around at earth to continue that work of the Lord. We look up so we can find inspiration to look around through the eyes of Christ, to be a part of His Kingdom work on earth, to be witnesses for him to the people in our world and as far as we can possibly reach…
The ascension of Jesus means he is not confined to this earth, he reigns above, he has sent his Holy Spirit to give us power to do his will and accomplish his purposes. This is so different from when he walked on this earth. His teaching is the same. His example is the same. He is the same Lord of miracles. His values are the same of loving the hurting, the underdogs, the disefranchised. His mission of forgiveness is the same as he died on the cross taking away our shame. He conquered death and hell showing us the better way of life and abundance. His life on earth is a life of love, acceptance and forgiveness. But now he is ascended to the father. What comes down must go up. That’s the way it always is for those that believe in Jesus Christ. He gives us inspiration that he will overcome our suffering and heartaches. We can look to him as the King who reigns above. And there is at least one more powerful promise that is part of the ascension of Christ: Jesus Christ will Come Again! God has not given up on this old earth. He promises to return one day and what a glorious day that will be! READ Acts 1:11b.
He’s coming again. Just as he ascended to heaven, he will descend one more time. This is a promise of Hope, the promise of the ages. The first Advent of Christ is when he was born on earth to Mary and Joseph. The second Advent (coming) is when he comes again, “that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.” (Phil 2:10-11). The second coming of Christ is the great hope giving us an eternal perspective that Jesus Christ will set all wrongs right, he will bring justice and grace to his conclusion, we are to wait patiently and actively as we do His great work on earth… The ascended Lord will return as judge and king. He will abolish injustice, end suffering, destroy death and set up his kingdom of truth, righteousness and love. We will be with our king forever. this is life under the reign of the ascended Christ Jesus!
As the resurrection opened the grave, the ascension opens heaven!
We cannot and must not limit our Christian experience to the incarnation of Jesus and his death and resurrection. His earthly life is vital. His death and resurrection brings salvation. But let us press on to embrace the Ascension of Jesus Christ as the defining truth of His present reign. He is in heaven. Heaven has been opened by the Ascension. Jesus sent us His Holy Spirit. He has empowered us to be his hands and feet on earth. He has commissioned us to be his witnesses and do his work on earth. We are to look to Him and his desires, not ours. And let us never let go of the great transforming truth that Jesus Christ is coming again. Praise God for the Ascension of Christ. Our God Reigns. Amen.