The Ascension of Our Lord

15 05 2010

What Goes Up. . .

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?  This Jesus who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way you saw him go into heaven.”   –Acts 1:11

Until very recent years I paid little attention to Christ’s ascension.  It seemed little more than necessary logistics—Jesus was on earth and needed to communicate clearly to his disciples that he would no longer be physically among them.  And viola! Jesus floats up on the clouds back to heaven to be with the Father.  A cool image, but largely void of import for the daily life of Christians.

Just one problem:  the Church, by its demarcation of sacred time, rejects the notion of an insignificant Ascension.  Forty days after Easter the Church calls us to enter again into the reality of our crucified, risen and ascended King.  Just as the Cross and the Empty Tomb are much, much more than mere reminders of Christ’s redemptive work, so also is Jesus riding the clouds.  Jesus of Narzareth brought about a new reality by his death and resurrection, and his ascension is no different.

To put it succinctly, by His death He destroyed death; by His resurrection He raised us to life; by His ascension, He seats us at the right hand of the Father’s favor and authority.  “Even when we were dead in our trespasses, [God] made us alive together in Christ. . . and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”  (Ephesians 2:6-7)  When we are in Christ, death is no longer the final reality about us.  When we are in Christ, His everlasting, God-filled life becomes ours too.  When we are in Christ, our powerlessness is transformed into genuine, God given authority.

Thinking of ourselves possessing Godly authority is frightening and many Christians reject the idea outright.  But this is because in our broken world authority is always abused even by the best of men.  “Power corrupts.”  Power and authority being used consistently for the good is beyond our ken.  At least, it was, until Jesus came along.  He used his God-given authority to teach the truth, love the unlovable, cast out demons, heal the broken, train disciples, proclaim good news, bring the Kingdom of light into the darkness, and surrender his life even unto death.

This is the end of the sermon.  Go and do likewise—you have been so authorized!




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