Jesus’ Ascension

Greg Strand – May 9, 2016 2 Comments

God’s unfolding plan of redemptive history culminates in the Lord Jesus Christ, both his person and his work. In the Bible this redemptive history is captured in some key turning points in Jesus’ life. The Bible highlights the following: (1) incarnation, (2) perfect life, (3) death- burial, (4) resurrection, (5) ascension, (6) session (being seated at the Father’s right hand, and (7) return in power and glory. The writers of the Scriptures teach these truths in that Jesus is Israel’s promised Messiah, the one fulfills all the Scriptures (Matt. 5:17-20), the one in and through whom all the promises of God are fulfilled (2 Cor. 1:20).

Although there is no biblical mandate for how these key redemptive events of Jesus are remembered or celebrated in the church, that we remember them as biblical truths is essential, and that these works of God and our experiences of these truths ought to lead to thanks and praise to God – Father, Son, Holy Spirit.

For some who follow the Christian year, yesterday was the day they remembered the redemptive historical event of Jesus’ Christ’s ascension. We use it as a time to remember this key biblical truth of the work of Christ.

In God’s redemptive work, Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:9) was to be seated at God’s right hand (Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1 Pet. 3:22) and to engage in intercession for believers (Rom. 3:34; Heb. 7:25). That is Jesus’ present ministry and our glorious experience.

Here are a few additional essays focusing on some of the “implications” of Christ’s ascension and also some of the “benefits” we receive from Jesus’ ascension. I include just the lists, and encourage you to read the whole essay.

Steve Mathewson, 5 Ways the Ascension Benefits You, states Jesus Christ’s ascension is critical to the redemption story. Collapsing the ascension into the resurrection means we miss many important truths of Christ’s work and benefits we receive as believers. He lists five.

  1. It establishes Jesus as the reigning king over all powers in all ages.
  2. It gives us access to God’s throne for mercy and grace.
  3. It provides an Advocate on earth whose presence is limitless.
  4. It gives us the spoils of Christ’s victory—gifted leaders and spiritual gifts.
  5. It keeps us longing for his return.

Mathewson concludes,

Now you know why Jesus disappeared. His ascension wasn’t merely an exclamation point at the end of the resurrection; it provided his followers with power, grace, mercy, presence, gifts, and anticipation enabling them to advance his mission.

Jared C. Wilson, 5 Things The Ascension Means, reminds readers that the ascension is an essential aspect of gospel doctrine. He lists five implications of Christ’s ascension.

  1. Jesus is really alive.
  2. Heaven is thicker than earth.
  3. God’s plan for human dominion of earth is being realized.
  4. The Incarnation is an enduring miracle.
  5. The ascension is gospel for sinners!

Kevin DeYoung, Happy Ascension Day, focuses on three ways Christ’s ascension benefits believers, looking to the Heidelberg Catechism (Question and Answer 49) for insight.

  1. First, Christ’s ascension benefits because we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1). Our Lord Jesus in heaven pleading our case, so that whenever Satan accuses us in our conscience or dates to lay a charge against us before the Father, Jesus, Christ, God’s own Son and our flawless advocate, stands ready to defend us and plead His own blood for our sake.
  2. Second, Christ’s ascension benefits us because we now have our own flesh in heaven; our lives are hidden with Christ who dwells in glory above (Col. 3:3-4). Christ’s flesh in heaven is a guarantee that ours will be there too someday.
  3. Third, Christ’s ascension benefits us because we get the Holy Spirit as a result.

In sum,

The good news of this holy day is that Jesus Christ is exercising the dominion that man was made to have from the very beginning (Gen. 1:28). The ruin of the first Adam will be undone by the reign of the second. Because of Christ’s ascension, we know that the incarnation continues, Christ’s humanity lives on in heaven, the Spirit lives in our hearts, and a flesh-and-blood, divine human being rules the universe.

Greg Strand

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Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

2 responses to Jesus’ Ascension

  1. Sherry Ritchie May 10, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Thank you for these amazing encouraging words!!
    See you soon!

    • It is great to hear from you, Sherry. I am grateful to the Lord you found these words on the ascension of Jesus Christ encouraging. As I noted, we often do not focus on Christ’s ascension, its meaning or significance. This truth is greatly encouraging! Yes, we will see you soon, Lord willing.

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