“When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.” Luke 24:50-51
The church observes the Ascension of Christ Jesus this year on May 26th. Ascension Day is always 40 days after Easter and constantly on a Thursday. Regrettably, the Ascension of Jesus can be seen as a much lesser event than His Birth, Baptism, Passion and Death, and Resurrection. It is unfortunate since the teaching of Christ Jesus’ Ascension is essential to our Christian life. The Ascension, after all, tells us who we are and what’s going on all around us.
The Ascension of Christ Jesus isn’t just about how He “went away” and is loitering around in heaven waiting for the nod from God the Father to return to Earth. The Ascension means that you, Christian, are always connected to God. Our exile from God, which started when Adam and Eve were ushered out of Eden, is over! We openly acknowledge that Christ Jesus is the Head of our faith and that we, as His church, are His body. Our head, then, is “seated at the right hand of the Father” (Heb 12:2), always in God the Father’s presence and always in communion with Him. This is true of you always. That’s important to remember in those moments when we feel as though God is so far away.
Sometimes when I am struggling or overwhelmed with doubt or fear, it’s easy for me to feel as though God is far away. When that happens, my prayer life wanes and I teeter on the edge of despair. In my sin I assume that God’s nearness is directly related to the strength of my faith or my ability to perceive what God is doing in my life. This assumption is based on the wrong idea that I can come to God without a Mediator. However, the Scriptures inform us that our nearness to God is ONLY available due to Christ Jesus and He hasn’t moved (1 Tim 2:5). Oh Lord, have mercy!
The Ascension of Jesus means that our security and our future, while not visible to us, are secure in Jesus Christ. At the same time, they are hidden in Christ and are located “where Christ is, at the right hand of God” (Col 3:1). This ought to free us from worry. If you’re like me, you tend to think through “worst-case scenarios” when difficulties or troubles are seen on the horizon. If you’re in Christ, though, you are never in danger in your real life. Your real life is with Christ Jesus and He has all things in His care. The tricky part is that this is not visible to us at the moment, just as Jesus Himself is not visible to us in this temporal life. That’s what it means to “walk by faith, and not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).
Jesus is enthroned with His Father moving history toward His goal. His invisibility is no sign of indifference or ineffectiveness but of patience. He is preparing a kingdom for His people and He is patiently waiting “that all should reach repentance.” (2 Pet 3:9). Therefore, the Ascension should give us confidence before God. As long as Christ Jesus is before God the Father, there is no condemnation for us. And the Ascension of Christ Jesus ought to give us confidence in our lives right now as Christ Jesus is always with us until the “end of the age” (Matt 28:20).
The tomb is empty; the throne is not. Alleluia!
In the name of the resurrected and ascended Jesus Christ,