“[Jesus] left them and was taken up into heaven”
(Luke 24:51, NIV)
The ascension of our Lord directs attention to the fact that He is not only risen, but enthroned. It is that event in which the risen Christ finally and visibly withdrew from His disciples and passed into the heavens – a fitting climax to His life of perfect obedience on earth. His glorious ascension was the necessary and appropriate complement to His resurrection, and the manner in which it took place was consistent with His miraculous life and achievements.
He did not vanish out of sight as He did at Emmaus (Luke 24:31) leaving a question as to whether there might be yet further appearances. He walked away from them, and then He was carried up into heaven, there to sit at the right hand of God. It took place as they were looking on, in broad daylight (Acts 1:9). There was no possibility of mistake. He was really and finally gone.
He ascended bodily, and carried His glorified human body into heaven. He left the disciples, with His hands outstretched in blessing. As soon as His nail-pierced feet left the earth, He commenced His ministry as their Advocate and Intercessor. They exchanged His physical presence for His spiritual omnipresence.
The ascension was an important part of the Lord’s ministry on our behalf. It imparted the assurance that His death was effective and that all God’s claims against sinful men had been met. It evidenced the fact that the problem created by man’s sin had been finally solved. It enabled His disciples to give a satisfying account of the disappearance of Christ’ body from the tomb.
Further, it was the necessary prelude to the coming of the Holy Spirit as promised by the Lord. As the Scriptures says, “the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified” (John 7:39). Now the way was open for the Pentecostal effusion. By the ascension, the local Christ became the universal Christ whose personal presence was mediated by the Holy Spirit.
To Christ, it was the reward of His obedience unto death. “Therefore God exalted Him…” (Philippians 2:9). The ascension reversed man’s verdict on the Son of God. Had the Saviour not ascended, we would be without a representative in heaven, and without the Comforter to lead and guide us on earth. His presence in heaven makes heaven a blessed reality to us. Amen.
[Edited, modified and modernized from Consider Him (1976) by J. Oswald Sanders]
THINK BIG. START SMALL. GO DEEP.