“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
Acts 1:9-11 (NKJ)
The resurrection of Jesus is reported in each of the four Christian Gospels in considerable detail, but the ascension of Jesus, His return to the right hand of the Father, is mentioned only briefly, and only in the Gospels of Mark and Luke. It is in the book of Acts, also written by Luke, where we find a more detailed description of this crucial event in Jesus’ atoning work on behalf of humanity.
Our world is far more familiar with astronauts than with angels, and with space shuttles blasting off into the heavens than with Jesus’ ascension into heaven.
But the ascension is a vital part of our understanding about Jesus, and about what He is doing for us and in us moment by moment. The ascension tells us that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God the Father. This is a poetic way of saying that all power is in Jesus’ hands, and that Jesus and the Father dwell in perfect unity and love. Jesus, not only reigns with God the Father over all the Universe, He and the Father, with the Holy Spirit, are one.
But perhaps even more amazing is what Paul tells us in Ephesians 2:4-7, that God “made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”. In Jesus, God has brought us into the loving relationship that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit share. In Jesus, we are accepted, wanted, and we are included. No wonder we read that after Jesus ascended into the heavens, His disciples returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the Temple blessing God!
It was so important that more than 30 years later, Peter was still talking about it. In Peter’s first epistle to the Christians in Asia, he wrote that “Jesus has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him” (I Peter 3:22).
In the first century, every Roman soldier proclaimed his allegiance to the emperor by saying, “Kyrios Kaisar!” “Caesar is Lord!”
But the Christians could not, would not, say that. They said instead, “Kyrios Christos!” “Christ is Lord!”
And many of them paid with their lives for that faith, knowing they awaited a personal resurrection into the new life of the kingdom of God. They knew that the proclamation, “Christ is Lord,” spelled the beginning of the end of all tyranny, because the Saviour Himself had ascended to the throne.
The ascension of Jesus also declares to us that as a man, as God in the flesh, Jesus took our sinful humanity and, having redeemed it through His life, death and resurrection, He presented it clean and perfect to His Father.
In Jesus, we have fellowship with our Father in heaven, and just as Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father, so we too, with Jesus our Lord, our Saviour, our Friend, and our Brother, dwell in the Father’s presence forever.
Thank you, Father, that Jesus sits at Your right hand. Thank you that through Him we dwell in Your presence forever. Thank you that that we are included in the fellowship of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Study by Joseph Tkach