More on Jesus’ Ascension

Bob RoaneJesus Christ, Joy and Peace, Safety and Security in Christ

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)

Better Than Apollo 11

Apollo 11 was the American spaceflight that first landed humans on the Moon. On July 20, 1969, with less than 30 seconds of fuel left, the lunar module landed in the Sea of Tranquility, and Commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the ladder onto the gray, powdery surface of the moon. It was the first time a human had ever gone to another celestial body. When they returned to earth, the astronauts had parades and dinners held in their honor in Washington D.C. President Nixon gave each astronaut the Medal of Freedom. What a celebration! The human race had just accomplished its greatest technological achievement up to that time.

Jesus accomplished more and achieved the greatest act of love and redemption for all eternity. He is the one Mediator between God and humanity. Christ bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness. By His wounds we have been healed. When Jesus’ work was done on earth, He went through the clouds and splashed down on heaven’s shores and He started a great celebration. He had done it! Christ had just completed the most dangerous and most important mission of all time. He faced every temptation but never yielded to sin. He responded to people’s intense hatred with grace and truth. Jesus could have called 10,000 angels to rescue Him. But He willingly obeyed God and fulfilled His mission of giving up His life as a sacrifice to bring people back to God. He defeated the Devil and destroyed death. Now Christ has returned to heaven in victory. The Father welcomes Jesus home and seats Him at His right hand, the place of highest honor.

Christians celebrate Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter. We do that because all heaven celebrates the victorious return of the Son, the Lamb who was slain, the Lion who conquered, the one who says in joy and power: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”1

This builds on Jesus’ Resurrection and Ascension.

Christ’s Divine Nature Requires His Ascension

Dr. Joel Nederhood says: If we don’t have an ascended Savior who is the Son of God, then we have no Savior worth telling the world about. If Christ is still rotting away in a Judean tomb, we have no message of good news for lost and dying people in our day. And we might as well scurry into the tomb ourselves. If we are serving a dead Christ, then we are pitiable and our faith is useless. Christians who change the world for good are certain that Jesus Christ lives and rules the universe.2

An Early Christian Fragment

In 1 Timothy chapter 3, Paul writes about qualifications for elders and deacons in Christ’s churches. And then he closes the section quoting from part of ancient creed:

Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great:

  • The Son of God appeared in the flesh,
  • He was vindicated by the Spirit,
  • He was seen by angels,
  • He was preached among the nations,
  • He was believed on in the world,
  • And He was taken up in glory. (1 Timothy 3:16)

This single verse of six little sentences contains a good summary of many essential Bible truths. Let’s consider each one briefly. I number them to help discussion.

1. Jesus’ Incarnation. The pre-existent Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, added to His deity humanity and was seen on earth for 33 years. Nothing was subtracted from His God-ness, but He added on a human body and soul. He is 100% God and 100% man in one person.3

2. Jesus’ Resurrection. God the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead and is living in His believers. The New Testament also teaches that God the Father raised Christ and Jesus also laid down His life and took it back again. All three persons of the Trinity were involved!4

3. Jesus was watched over by angels. They announced His birth; they attended Him at His temptation; they strengthened Him in Gethsemene; and they announced His resurrection and ascension.5

4. Jesus was and is still being preached to the Gentiles (non-Jews). The Lord promised Abraham that all peoples on earth will be blessed through Christ, Abraham’s descendant. God is still gathering in Jewish and Gentile followers of Christ from all nations.6

5. Jesus made and is still making believers all around the world. Salvation by God’s grace through faith in Christ is God’s greatest gift. Believing in Jesus cannot be done in our own power or by our own resources, otherwise we might boast in ourselves. We must believe to be saved, but even our faith is donated to us by the Lord, so we brag on Him.7

6. Jesus was taken up in glory. This is His ascension. Forty days after His resurrection, Christ said: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After Jesus said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. The disciples were looking intently up into the sky as Christ was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. They 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.”8

So we pray to a Living Savior: Our Lord, in all generations you have been our home. You have always been God—long before the birth of the mountains, even before you created the earth and the world….Do wonderful things for us, your servants, and show your mighty power to our children and grandchildren. Our Lord and our God, treat us with kindness and make all go well for us. Yes, establish the work of our hands.

To be continued

Notes: 1 Opening section adapted and expanded from   2 Adapted from my notes from a sermon by Dr. Nederhood called, “Science and the Ascension,” heard on The Back to God Hour.     3 Phil 2:8-11.     4 Rom 1:4, 8:11; 2 Peter 3:18; Acts 2:24; Gal 1:1; John 2:19, 10:17-18.     5 Mark 1:13; Luke 2:8-10, 22:41-43; Matt 28:1-7; Acts 1:10-11.     6 Gen 12:3, 22:18, 26:4; Acts 3:25-26; Rom 4:11; Gal 3:8,16,28; Col 3:11; Rev 7:9.     7 Eph 2:8-10; 2 Peter 1:1; Phil 1:29; Acts 3:16.     8 Acts 1:8-11; Luke 24:51; Heb 1:1-3; 1 John 2:1-2.