Forty days after Jesus rose from the dead he ascended into heaven. Luke gives a detailed account of Christ’s ascension. He writes, “When [Jesus] had said these things, as [the disciples] 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’” (Acts 1:9-11). Today we celebrate that event, on Ascension Day.
Jesus’ ascension is a crucial aspect of our redemption.
Of all aspects of Christ’s redemptive work, his ascension is usually the least considered. Christians worldwide celebrate Christ’s incarnation (at Christmas) as well as his death and resurrection (at Easter). We even look forward to his second coming, but typically give little thought to Christ’s ascension. Despite this neglect, Jesus’ ascension is a crucial aspect of our redemption. In this post I highlight four reasons why ascension matters in our lives as Christians.
1. Christ’s Ascension Established Him As The King Over All
Soon after his ascension to heaven, Christ was crowned as king over all. What is a king without a crown? After telling us of Christ’s humiliation (Philippians 2:5-8), Paul turns to his exaltation and enthronement (2:9-11). He writes, “God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should 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.”
If the ascended Christ is for us then no one can triumph against us.
To this, Peter adds, “Jesus as our king is controlling all the affairs of this world” (1 Peter 3:22). So as God’s people we can rest assured, for if Christ is for us then no one can triumph against us. As the Westminster Shorter Catechism wonderfully puts it: Christ as our king rules and defends us; he also restrains and conquers all his and our enemies.
2. At The Ascension Christ Began His High Priestly Work In Heaven
As the author of Hebrews writes, in reference to Christ’s ascension: Christ is the high priest who has passed through the heavens (Hebrews 4:14). Thus Christ, as our high priest, is able to save us to the uttermost for he ever lives to make intercession for us (Hebrews 7:25). While on earth Christ served as our high priest by offering himself as the perfect sacrifice for sins, once for all. Now in heaven he continues the work by interceding for us unceasingly. What a comfort!
You have a high priest at the right hand of God who is praying for you.
Regardless of how determined we are, all of us grow weary in our prayers, both for ourselves and for others. However, Christ as our high priest ever lives to intercede for us. So be of good courage, child of God! You have a high priest at the right hand of God who is praying for you even as you read this article on Ascension Day, because of Christ’s ascension.
3. After His Ascension, Christ Sent The Holy Spirit In Fullness
Christ’s ascension meant that the Holy Spirit would be given in a full measure to God’s people. Unless Jesus ascended into heaven after his death and resurrection the Holy Spirit would not have come in fullness on earth. As Jesus said to his disciples: “It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). While on earth, Christ’s ministry was limited to one location. However, now through the work of the Holy Spirit, Christ is at work throughout the entire world. In addition, as the ascended head of the Church, Christ gives out spiritual gifts to his church through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:8-13).
While on earth, Christ’s ministry was limited to one location.
Thus Ascension Day is either a call to missions or into greater local church service—or both. If Christ had not ascended, the Church would have been in only one location. We would all have to go to Jerusalem to be ministered to by Christ. The blessing of care and shepherding from our pastors, elders, and fellow congregants would not have been there. However, because of his ascension the gospel is now preached in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth, as God’s people are empowered by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
4. On Ascension Day We Anticipate Christ’s Return
Finally, Christ’s ascension is an assurance to his people that he will return to take them to be with him forever. As Jesus prepared his disciples for his death and resurrection, the disciples were troubled. He encouraged them saying, “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also” (John 14:1-4).
Christ will come again to right all things.
In this fallen world so many things make us long for our eternal home. We all see and eventually experience suffering. Death robs us of our loved ones. Tears and pain are commonplace in this life, making us cry out, “Come Lord Jesus, come!” But it’s no desperate cry. No, it’s a cry of hope. For we know that just as he ascended, he will also come again (Acts 1:11). So, be encouraged! Christ will come again to right all things. Where he is now is also where you belong.
Ascension Day Is About Our Past, Present, And Future
The ascended Christ is our king who defends and conquers all his and our enemies. He is also our perfect high priest, who ever lives to make intercession for us. As a result of his ascension, Christ has given the Holy Spirit, who grants spiritual gifts to his church. His ascension is also a guarantee that one day he will come again and then we will live with God. This is why it is worthy for Christians to reflect more on Christ’s ascension, just as we do with his incarnation, death, resurrection, and second coming. For Christ’s ascension matters too in our Christian life.