On Easter Sunday, we celebrate that Jesus was raised from the dead. But on Ascension Day (observed this last Thursday), we remember that Jesus ascended to heaven forty days after his resurrection. Ascension Day always falls on the Thursday (which is one of the reasons why it doesn’t receive as much attention). But the significance of Jesus’ ascension is worth contemplating.
First, the ascension ought to inspire great joy. When Jesus broached the topic of his departure, his disciples were filled with sorrow. But Jesus assured them that it was to their advantage that he went away (John 16:7). If he went away, he would send them the Spirit. The ascended Jesus is in a position to pour out the bountiful gifts of heaven.
Second, the ascension ought to inspire hope. Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father where he is interceding for us (Romans 8:34). Jesus is seated. The work is done. And the right hand of the King is the place of greatest honor and influence in the kingdom. In the midst of our struggle, we have an advocate. The ascended Jesus is representing humanity and he has the ear of God.
Third, the ascension ought to inspire confidence. How do you picture Jesus? We often think of him teaching on a hillside or perhaps hanging on a cross. But that is not how Jesus appears now. The Bible gives us several depictions of the ascended Jesus and it is clear that the game has changed. John depicted the ascended Jesus to embolden a struggling first-century church (Revelation 1). Stephen saw the ascended Jesus as he was being stoned (Acts 7:54-60). The scene was so stunning that Stephen felt pity for his murderers. The ascended Jesus is attentive to his suffering servants and is poised for justice.
May God help us to be inspired by the resurrected and ascended Jesus!
Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/sunrise-sky-blue-sunlight-clouds-165094/