I came from the Father and entered the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father….I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:28,33)
The First Christians Were Certain
The Lord’s first disciples and followers were absolutely convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was a living Savior, not a martyred teacher and philosopher, so they celebrated His resurrection every Lord’s Day (Sunday). They were so sure that they were willing to suffer torture and death rather than renounce this truth. This “Easter Message” electrified early Christians and their message “turned the world upside down,” which is really right side up. Even today, God the Holy Spirit is growing Jesus’ Church in China, India, Africa, and other places as believers proclaim the truth of the Resurrected Jesus. We do not point others primarily to moral rules, religious rituals, or theological creeds (good as these may be in their place). We point ourselves and others to the living God-man who alone can save us from guilt and darkness and the grave. In Revelation 1:18, Christ says: I am the Living One; I was dead, and now look, I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”1
A proud and ungodly professor once challenged a college student who followed the Lord Jesus. He said, “You don’t know whom you believe in. There have been many ‘christs.’ In which do you believe?” She answered, “I believe in the Christ of the Bible who rose again from the dead on the third day, He ascended into heaven, He is seated at the right hand of God the Father, and He will come again to judge the living and the dead.”2
Jesus is alive, beloved. Our eternal life depends on it. Christ’s resurrection is a historical fact. But what has God accomplished in raising Christ? Here are more biblical answers. This builds on our previous posts: Eyewitnesses of Christ’s Resurrection; Jesus’ Resurrection: Something New Begins; and Jesus’ Resurrection Gives Us Significance and Stability
Christ’s Resurrection Leads to His Ascension and Gives Him Authority over All
Scriptures: After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God….While He was blessing them, Christ left them and was taken up into heaven….Jesus was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight….The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging Him on a cross. God exalted Him to His own right hand as Prince and Savior that He might bring people to repentance and forgive their sins….And the angels said: Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven.3
Comments: Jesus ascended bodily into heaven in the presence of His apostles, forty days following His resurrection. Aside from the above Scriptures, many more Bible passages speak of Christ’s “exalted state.” In Psalm 110:1, God the Father says to God the Son, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” This psalm is a cornerstone in Christian theology, proof of the Godhead (the Holy Trinity) and Jesus’ supremacy as King, Priest, and Messiah. Psalm 110 is the most frequently quoted or referenced psalm in the New Testament.4
Remember, Christ arose from the dead with the same body and soul in which He suffered and with which He also ascended into heaven. There King Jesus sits at His Father’s right hand, interceding for and helping His believers, and He will return to judge all people who have ever lived.
Among other blessings, Christ’s ascension:
- Shows the success of His atoning work. He reconciled us to God and accomplished all that He came to do.5
- Begins Jesus’ return to His heavenly ministry of helping us overcome in spiritual warfare.6
- Paves the way for His sending the Holy Spirit.7
- Sets the pattern for His return and our resurrection.8
- Guarantees that Jesus will crush Satan’s head, bringing his final defeat, at Christ’s Second Advent.9
- Ensures that Christ bring all His people all the way home to a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells.10
John Calvin says: Christ was taken up into heaven, not to enjoy blessed rest at a distance from us, but to govern the world for the salvation of all His believers. Since Christ, our Head, has ascended to heaven, we should leave our carnal desires behind and lift our hearts, minds, and lives upward to Him.
Christ’s Resurrection And Ascension Shows He Keeps His Word
Scripture: Some Pharisees said, “Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you.” Jesus answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it. For they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here.11
Comments: Jesus stakes the reputation of His whole life and ministry on His resurrection. In Matthew’s Gospel alone, Christ announces that He will be crucified and then raised at least four times.12 In John’s Gospel alone, He foretold the Ascension often. How could we believe that Jesus is God the Son without these truths? How could we believe in Jesus’ Virgin birth, His miracles, and all God’s mighty acts all through the Bible, if Christ remained trapped in Joseph’s tomb? We couldn’t and shouldn’t trust God. It would be foolish. Jesus goes out on a limb and says it all hangs on His resurrection. He says: I’ll be murdered and raised in 3 days. I have power to lay down my life and to take it up again.13 And Christ fulfills these prophecies just as He said He would.
So be assured, beloved, the Lord will keep all His promises to give you comfort, hope, and peace, to hear and answer your prayers, and to forgive all your sins. He will save to the uttermost, completely, perfectly, finally, for all time and eternity you who come to God through Him.14 You can trust Him to accept you and never reject you. To never cast you out or drive you away.15 You can trust Jesus to be with you always, even to the end of the age.
You can rest secure, beloved, that Christ will honor all His guarantees. His resurrection shows you that He’s reliable and trustworthy. You can count on Him. You can follow His way of life mapped out in the Bible, with 100% confidence that you’ll be blessed.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous (Jesus’ followers),
but the way of the wicked (Jesus’ rejecters) leads to destruction. (Psalm 1:6)
Notes (various Bible translations used): 1 Some of this section adapted from Henry G. Bosch, Our Daily Bread. 2 From the Apostle’s Creed, Modern English Version. 3 Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:1-12, 5:30-31. 4 Theopedia. 5 John 19:28-30; Rom 4:25. 6 Acts 1:11; Heb 9:28; Rev 1:7. 7 Rom 8:34; Heb 7:25. 8 Acts 2:33; John 16:7-14; Eph 4:8-12. 9 Rom 16:20; Rev 20:1-3. 10 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1-4. 11 Matt 12:38-41. 12 Matt 16:21, 17:9, 22-23; 20:18-19. 13 John 2:19, 10:18. 14 Heb 7:25. 15 John 6:37.