By Rev. John Campbell, United Presbyterian Church, Oakdale
Last month we celebrated Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. We joined our voices singing and saying our praises to God along with those early disciples in rejoicing in what God has done. Now we have moved back to the routine, yet this week there is a special day of the Church calendar. It is the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord.
It is possible that most readers are in a similar position to this writer, we did not grow up knowing about this special day. Yes, we probably heard that Jesus went to heaven but that was about it. The early Church fathers wanted believers to remember as one writer said, ‘the Ascension is a prophecy of things to come for those who love God and believe in Him.’
The Ascension shows Jesus, as the unique God-man—fully human and fully divine—going to take his place as the new king and head of the human race. Jesus had told his disciples, that they will do the works he has done because ‘because I am going to the Father’. In being taken up before them, Jesus was shone to taken in his glorified flesh to his position with God the Father.
Like us, while Jesus was here on earth, he was limited to one place, yet in ascending he was freed from time-space continuum. Let’s say that you wanted to talk with Jesus while he was on earth, you would have to go to him. Now though, we can commune with Christ at any time and in any place because he is outside of all physical restrictions. Thus, the ascended Christ is available for loving communication and fellowship. He is supremely personal.
Also, the ascended Christ is supremely powerful. Jesus is sitting on at the right of God the Father. As Tim Keller has written: ‘He controls all things for the church, and therefore you can face the world with peace in your heart . . . he’s at the right hand of God as the executive director of history, directing everything for the benefit of the church.’
Because of the ascension, we have this great promise from the book of Hebrews: ‘… he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.’ Jesus stands as our advocate and representative before the throne of the universe. When the eyes of God the Father look at you, they see the ascended Jesus; when they listen to you, they hear him.
As the great creed has reminded Christians across the ages, “He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God, the Father almighty, from there he will return to judge the living and the dead.” Jesus went up and back into heaven, but will one day return for us as our conquering king.
This should give us great encouragement! Luke reminds us that the exalted Christ has given us his Spirit, who equips us with the power, boldness, and courage we need to accomplish our mission.