This Sunday we celebrate and remember Jesus’ Ascension. In the process, it is well worth examining the deeper meaning behind this event, as well as how it impacts our daily lives and our relationship with God.
Fr. William G. Most, in his article “The Ascension of Christ and His Glorified Existence” sums up these four points very succinctly for us in saying,
"He ascended to receive the glory due to Him as conqueror of sin and death (Philippians 2:8-11); to be our Mediator and advocate with the Father (Hebrews 9:24); to send the Holy Spirit as He had promised at the Last Supper (John 16:7); and to prepare a place for us as He also promised (John 14:2).”
Let us break down each of these four reasons for Jesus’ Ascension and explore them in a bit more detail.
"Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” - Philippians 2:8-11, NASB
First, the Ascension is the culmination of the work that Jesus initiated on Good Friday. As he was lifted up onto the cross, he is lifted up vastly higher into the heavens to come into his glory. This glory is the reward he is due as the conqueror of sin and death.
"For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us;” - Hebrews 9:24, NASB
Second, He ascends to be our advocate for the Father. As the writer of Hebrew notes, Christ appears in the presence of God for our benefit. Whereas the priests of the old testaments entered into the earthly temples to intercede on behalf of the community, our high priest Jesus mediates for us in Heaven with the Father.
"But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.” - John 16:7, NASB
Third, Jesus promises to send us the Holy Spirit. During the Last Supper, Jesus explains that is in fact better for us to receive the Holy Spirit and for Him to act as our advocate in Heaven than for him to remain on the earth. In His Ascension, Jesus provides assurance of the unending overflow of the Holy Spirit’s presence, strength, and blessings in our life.
"In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2, NASB)
Fourth, Jesus ascended to prepare a place for us with Him. As with the entire redemptive motion that begins on Good Friday and ends with His Ascension, Jesus acts with the sole purpose of reuniting us with the Father and providing us access to the dwelling place of His presence, which we were designed for all along.
As we celebrate and remember the Ascension, let us reflect on all that Jesus did through His Ascension on our behalf and that even now, we have Him as our advocate in heaven always.