Up, Up, and Away (Acts 1:9-11)
One scholar explains away the ascension by saying that Jesus walked up a mountain into some clouds.
Such an “explanation” hardly does justice to the biblical record. Scripture affirms:
- That Jesus was received up into heaven.
- That the apostles watched Jesus ascend into heaven.
- That angels told the apostles Jesus would return to this earth the same way he was taken from it.
Tonight, we need to examine this biblical subject.
What Does the Ascension Meant to Christ?
He was exalted to the right hand of God.
Acts 2:32-33; 7:56.
When Jesus was crucified, it appeared as though all was lost. Jesus had promised so much, but everything had now been seemingly lost. Jesus, the hope of so many, had been killed by lawless hands.
Yet, God gave Jesus victory. He raised him from the dead. He also gave him a place of honor-a place at his right hand.
He is exalted as Lord.
Acts 2:36. Philippians 2:9-11.
This title means “owner” or “master.” Jesus owns us; he is our master. Therefore, we need to live in accordance with his standards.
He is exalted as Head of the church.
No man is head of the church. No man has the right to change the church.
- He is exalted as High Priest.
The high priest would make sacrifices for the people (Lev. 9:7). Jesus made sacrifice for us, his people (Heb. 7:27).
He is exalted as our Savior.
The very foundation of Christianity affirms that man cannot save himself. As Jesus was exalted at God’s right hand, God gave Jesus the power to give the forgiveness of sins.
What Does the Ascension Mean to the Salvation Process?
- We have a High Priest who has made Atonement (Heb. 1:3).
Jesus made purification for our sins. Our sins were ugly and horrible. Jesus purified those sins. After Jesus purified those sins, he sat down at God’s right hand.
We now have a Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5).
Of course, a mediator goes between two parties. Jesus goes between man and God and makes fellowship possible.
We now have an Intercessor (Rom. 8:34).
Intercession means to appeal–Jesus appeals for us before God’s throne. Jesus continues to make intercession for us (Heb. 7:25).
We now have an Advocate (1 Jn. 2:1).
The idea of an “advocate” is one who helps or one who pleads the case of another, e.g., a children’s advocate would argue one behalf of children. Jesus pleads our case before God’s throne.
What Did the Ascension Meant to the Early Church?
It was the end of the resurrection appearances.
For forty days following his resurrection, Jesus lived with and spoke to his apostles. Yet, after his resurrection, he chiefly spoke to them through the Holy Spirit. On occasion, Jesus did appear to individuals after his ascension, yet each time he did so to individuals who had the miraculous measure of the Spirit (e.g., Paul, Ananias, Stephen). Jesus today doesn’t speak to individuals today except through his Word. If people do claim to see Jesus, they had better back up their word with miracles. If people do claim to see Jesus, he had better not say something that isn’t in Scripture (Gal. 1:6-9).
It let them know where Jesus had gone.
Had Jesus simply disappeared from the early church, they would have had every reason to be terrified. But, since the apostles watched Jesus ascend into heaven, they knew where he had gone.
It made possible the coming of the Holy Spirit.
John 16:7. Acts 2:33.
The coming of the Holy Spirit allowed:
- The word of the apostles to be confirmed (Mk. 16:20).
- The New Testament to be written (Jn. 16:13).
What Does the Ascension Mean to Us?
We need to recognize Jesus as King, Christ, and Head of the church.
The Christian life is affected and impacted (Col. 3:1-2).
Since our Lord has been seated at God’s right hand, we need to fill our lives with thoughts coming from above (Phil. 4:8). Our actions are greatly affected by what we think (Prov. 23:7).
There is eternal life and hope.