Tomorrow is Ascension Day which is one of the most neglected but key days in the Christian Calendar. One of the reasons for this is that in an attempt to match the calendar to the events Ascension Day falls on a Thursday (40 days after the Resurrection and 10 days before Pentecost) and is not always picked up in a church preaching plan on the following Sunday. Because of this, we miss some truths of great importance. In days past the BBC used to play an Ascension hymn on the Thursday but in our post Christian age such things have been dispensed with so today we reflect on why this great day is so important.
This is in no way exhaustive but I pray that it will help each of us to appreciate and understand more fully what it means.
Because of the Ascension the Holy Spirit has been given.
But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: 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.
At CFC we are currently preaching on the Fruit of the Spirit (the Helper) and it is because of the Ascension that such fruit is available to all God’s people. What a blessing.
Because of the Ascension we have an advocate at the throne of God himself.
Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Romans 8.34
As a consequence of the Ascension Jesus is at the right hand of God (the throne of Grace) interceding for us. Pause and let that truth sink deep into your heart today.
I am not skilled to understand
What God has willed, what God has planned
I only know at his right hand
Stands one who is my Saviour.
Jesus ascended bodily into heaven Acts 1.9 and will return in the same way v.10.
He ascended bodily and he stands in heaven fully God and fully man for he took his human body, complete with the marks of his crucifixion, when he returned to his Father and there he intercedes for us with his pierced hands, feet and side visible conformation that our sins are covered and so there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus .. Romans 8.1
Because of the Ascension nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? Romans 8.35
As believers we are ‘in Christ’ a glorious phrase focusing on a special relationship because of which, as Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father, in a special sense we are there as well and Jesus said of those who are his
‘I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.’ John 10.28.
It was true of those who Jesus called as he lived on earth. It is doubly true as spiritually we are currently ‘in him’ in heaven.
Because of the Ascension we look forward to Jesus’ return.
As we look at our broken world, tragically brought before us this morning with the horrific details of another mass shooting in the United States, do we not, deep down, long for the promised return of the Lord Jesus and the promised New Heaven and New Earth?
The fact that Jesus ascended to his Father assures us that the promised return will happen. It may not be in our lifetime, yet it may be today. It will certainly happen and however long it is before that great and awesome day we live in the glorious certainty that Jesus is in Heaven and we ‘in him’ are secure as he intercedes for us.
Lift your eyes heavenwards and celebrate the Ascension today!