“This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven,
will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Today the Church celebrates the ascension of Jesus Christ. It completes the journey of salvation that began with the Incarnation – when God in Christ entered into the world in a completely new and significant way. Having fulfilled God’s mission for Him in His death and resurrection Jesus ascension back to heaven and to ‘the right hand of God’ secures and seals for us all that He has done. Augustine put it like this,
“For unless the Saviour had ascended into heaven
His Nativity would have come to nothing
… and His Passion would have borne no fruit for us,
and His most holy Resurrection would have been useless.”
Indeed, if Jesus had not risen from the dead what hope would there be for us? And, likewise, if Jesus had not ‘ascended into heaven’ how could we hope that we would do so one day? Rather we see in the ascension the wonderful fulfilment of God’s promise that,
“so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11)
The fact that He is now seated at the right hand of God indicates that His work of atonement has been completed. Seated there He continues to intercede for us as well as to prepare a place for us. (John 14:2). With His ascension He also opened the way for the promised Holy Spirit to come in a very real and significant way – which event we celebrate shortly at Pentecost. And when God decides that the time is right Jesus will return to finally establish the Kingdom of God and for the final judgment.
If Scripture teaches us one thing it is this – God can be trusted. Again and again He told His people what He would do, and He did it. Many did not live to see the complete fulfilment of His promise but they put their faith in Him – and it was not disappointed.
God has prepared a future and a place for us and it is there that we will find the true completeness, peace and fulfilment that we desire. Indeed it will be far greater and deeper, more beautiful and lovely, and more varied and extensive than we could ever grasp or imagine from where we are today.
“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
And so our marching song as we journey onwards is this
Christ has died,
Christ has risen,
Christ will come again.
Lord I believe and trust in You. Please deepen and strengthen this faith in me every day, for Your Name’s sake. Amen.