The Ascension of Jesus is celebrated on the 40th day after Easter Sunday (Acts 1:4). Because it is always a Thursday it tends to be overlooked and neglected. Yet the Ascension of Jesus is the culmination of his earthly life. It confirms his identity, and speaks to us of our destiny. What does the Ascension of Jesus have to say to us about our own future life?
The belief of the early church was that Jesus, at the end of forty days of teaching about the kingdom of God, was taken up to heaven before the very eyes of the disciples. A cloud hid him from their sight. “They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white, stood beside them. ‘Men of Galilee,’ they said, ‘why do you stand here looking into the sky? 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.’” (Acts 1:10,11)
The first Christians were so thrilled by this message that they wrote hymns about it. St. Paul includes one such early hymn, in his letter to Timothy.
“Beyond all question, the mystery of godliness is great:
He appeared in a body,
was vindicated by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was preached among the nations,
was believed on in the world,
was taken up in glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)
The Gospel message depends on these truths:
- The eternal Son of God, existing as pure spirit before Time, was made visible in his earthly life, when he became a human being.
- Christ’s profound claims were vindicated by his miracles, climaxing in his resurrection; these were sure evidences that he was the sinless Son of God.
- During his earthly ministry angels watched over him, his birth and resurrection were witnessed by the heavenly host.
- After his death and resurrection, his message was proclaimed to all races.
- All different kinds of people responded by putting their faith in him.
- Finally, he was exalted to the glorious presence of God in heaven. This was the climax of his earthly ministry.
Jesus ascended so that we too, might ascend with him. We are united with him, by grace through faith. We are part of his Body. If we are in him we can look forward to being taken up into glory. He pioneered the way for us. He took his human body into heaven so that we too, might be taken into the presence of God. This destination is called “glory”.
Old friend Fran Nash wrote to us shortly before her death:
Bill and I are doing well for two oldies. Our walking has taken on a more tottery quality. My legs are growing numb and constantly cold. Bill’s knee bothers him. We have sags and bags everywhere. Hair and eyebrows are disappearing. Noses and bellies are bigger; eyes and lips are shrinking. Cheeks sink inward rather than curving outward. Muscles shrink, joints enlarge. Brown polka dots splatter what used to be unpatterned skin. Wattle beneath the chin wobbles and sways with every move. BUT – you know what? I’ve never been happier or more thankful or considered my future with more anticipation. Pain is no fun, uncertainty can tangle things in knots, questions on how to handle this or that, can cover the blue sky with rain clouds. But those things have always been there trying to discourage us. God seems closer, always ready to help.
Can you consider your future with such anticipation? You can when you know that you will be taken up with Jesus into glory.