Jesus Christ was crucified. He died. He was buried. He rose again and ascended. The fact of His rising from the dead signified that Christ is indeed alive. But he needed to show that He was living.
He demonstrated this to His disciples. “To them He presented Himself alive after His passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the Kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). He used the intervening forty days (that followed the resurrection of Jesus Christ) to prove that He has indeed arisen and had a body.
He appeared to two men who were on their way to Emmaus. One of them was named Cleopas. “They said to Him, ‘Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.
Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women in our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see’ ” (Luke 24:19-24).
After His resurrection, Jesus Christ lived ‘among’ His disciples for forty days – as mentioned earlier – before He ascended to heaven. Hence forty days after the resurrection is generally celebrated as Ascension Day by the Church. “Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried into heaven.
And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24:50-53). Ascension brought joy to the disciples. It reinvigorated the act of worship from the disciple knowing full well that Jesus is alive.
A major significance of the ascension of Christ to believers is that it confirms his divinity and ever-presence among His people. He was seen alive and taken away in the very presence of His disciples. “And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?
This Jesus, who you was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1:9-11).
The reality of the ascension of Christ was not accidental. It was prophesized by the prophets of the Old Testament and by Jesus Christ Himself. “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand” (Psalm 110:1). “In my father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2).
If Jesus had not ascended there would not have been anyone to sit by God to propitiate for human sins (Matthew 26:64; Hebrew 1:3, 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22).
The ascension elevated Jesus to a tower from which He could fight on our behalf and subdue the enemies of the Church; making our enemies His footstool (Psalm 110:1). Hence, we – soldiers of the Cross and faith – can become rulers and be strengthened for the fight against the world and all that does not represent the will of God (Acts 9:22; Psalm 29:11).
And in Hebrew 11:32-34, “For time would fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, of David and Samuel and the prophets – who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, received promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched raging fire, escaped the edge of the sword, won strength out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”
The ascension enthroned Christ at the right hand of God. Consequently, all authority is given to Him by God. His authority is of absolute sovereignty. He shares it with no other power on earth below, and in heaven above.
Apostle Paul puts it thus: “Therefore God has exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippian 2:9-11).
The ascension of Christ Jesus makes it possible for Him to elevate all believers to become priests forever in the order of His own dispensation. “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4b). “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).
God has always desired that all believers should be called His own people. Prophet Jeremiah affirms this Divine desire in a most loving expression, “The Lord has appeared him afar. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” (Jeremiah 31:3).
The ascension becomes meaningful in a believer’s life only when they accept its reality, its mystery, and the fact that He died, was resurrected on the third day, and ascended into heaven; sitting at the right hand of God the Father. The writer of Hebrew thus called Jesus Christ the Forerunner.
“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the Forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become the High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrew 6:19-20). We must therefore anchor our faith and hope – that the ascension secures for believers – on Jesus.
“Therefore lift up your drooping hands, strengthen your weak knees, and make a straight path for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather healed” (Hebrew 12:12). And in verse 25, our task as believers is: “See that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For they did not escape when they refused Him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape if we reject Him who warns from heaven.”
“Now, may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the Great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.