Things We Really Need To Know About The Ascension

ascension7Most Christians are familiar with the main facts of Jesus’ life on earth; He was born, did some miracles, died on a cross, rose again three days later, and finally went back to heaven. Whilst there is nothing wrong with our chronology, I do believe that there has been a massive lack of understanding when it comes to what these events really mean. Saying the ascension was simply when Jesus went back to heaven is like saying the Magna Carta and the United States Declaration of Independence are just a couple of old documents. The meaning behind these and the impact on the world are immense, but the meaning of the ascension goes to a whole other dimension of significance.

Most of us will have seen pictures of Jesus being taken into the sky and disappearing into the clouds, with the disciples left staring until they are given an angelic wake up call and the promise that Jesus will return in the same way. From this scene we are lead to believe that Jesus is now ‘up’ in heaven, waiting for the time on God’s calendar to come back down again to wrap everything up, but there is so much more.

Daniels Vision

If we read Daniel 7:13-14 we are given an Old Testament context for  Jesus’ ascension which is recorded in Luke 24:50-51 7 Acts 1:9 . Far from being a dramatic way to prove that He was more special than us, or an alien spaceman, or a medieval myth, the ascension is the fulfilment of Jesus’ resurrection and the inauguration of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.

 

Up

In His ascension Jesus was taken up, and our minds often have him doing a ‘Supermanesc’  take off; the problem here is how we understand the word ‘up’. We are conditioned to think of heaven as ‘up there’ and I can remember wondering if I were to travel far enough into space, whether I would eventually get to heaven. I would suggest that a better way to consider heaven is as another dimension that is the more real part of God’s creation; rather than millions of miles away it is God’s space, though hidden it is non the less very real.

Another way we can use the word up has nothing to do with physical altitude; we often refer to promotion as going up in the world, a student can go up to college or we might get a call from our boss to go up to head office. Non of these are about altitude, but they are about position, and when it comes to Jesus’ ascension it is much more about His exultation as Lord of all than His altitude. For all we know, He may have been lifted just a few feet in the air as He was received into heaven.

 Jesus’ ascension it is much more about His exultation as Lord of all than His altitude
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Cloud

Another assumption to reconsider is the cloud that took Jesus from sight; we need to think here less about Cumuli Nimbus and more about the glory of God, the Shekinah if you prefer. We know that Jesus was going to His Father’s throne and Daniel 7:13 prophesies to us that the Son of Man appeared before the Ancient of Days in the clouds of heaven – could it be that the cloud the disciples saw was the same one Daniel saw? I am not for a moment suggesting that Jesus’ ascension wasn’t an actual happening in our space time reality, but I do think we need to rethink how the church at large views it.

 

Enthroned

At this point things get exciting and dangerous. It was said that when a Roman emperor died his soul was taken to heaven (and there would normally be an eye witness to verify this) where he became divine, this would entitle his successor to the auspicious title “the son of god’; very helpful when you are pursuing complete obedience from your subjects. Of course when Jesus ascended He showed how it should be done; He ascended bodily without the need to die, He had a crowd of witnesses and promised that He would return – beat that Caesar! The message here is a towering and unchangeable truth, Jesus is the true Lord of all creation, and Caesar and every other ruler is not. The declaration of this truth has been the reason so many Christians have been martyred; governments and rulers don’t like being reminded that they aren’t number one.

Jesus is the true Lord of all creation, and Caesar and every other ruler is not
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The ascension is the clear declaration that Jesus is the One in charge; He rules from His Father’s throne, He has the authority, He is the judge and He will return to make everything right. The Bible is full of references to the implications of the ascension, (Eph. 1:20; 4:8–10; Phil. 2:9–11; 1 Tim. 3:16, Heb. 1:3; 4:14; 9:24); and because of it Jesus was able to send the Holy Spirit, He can now intercede for us (this is more about intervention than prayer) and is able to move among the churches.

 

Agents Of Change

As for us, we are not waiting to escape to the sweet by and by; instead, we are change agents, we declare the reality of the Lordship of Christ and demonstrate His rule through our prayers and our service to one another, and to the world. One day every eye shall see Him, until then we live in the certain knowledge that the worlds true Lord is not a politician or despot, He is not a distant and unconcerned monarch, but as God had always planned – a perfect man.

Go well my friends 😀

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