Whole Life Whole Bible Day 39
Luke 24:50-53 (NASB)
50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven. 52 And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising God.
38: Out of this world
Christ’s ascension sometimes gets bundled together with his resurrection rather than being treated as an event in its own right. In fact, as the rhythm of the church’s calendar reminds us, the two events were separated by 40 days. That rhythm, itself informed by the biblical story, enables us to see things as they really are — from God’s perspective — with Jesus’ ascension opening up a new era in the history of his dealings with the world and his people in the world.
At the very least, it means that Jesus is exalted to the right hand of God, as Peter explains (Acts 2:33–36; 5:31), showing that he is less interested in the ‘up–down’ mechanics of the event than he is with the status of his Lord. The ascension confirms Jesus as the king, the fulfillment of God’s promises to David.
Beyond this, if we lose the ascension, we lose the heavenly ministry of Jesus as our high priest, his very presence with God providing intercession on our behalf, his finished work requiring no repetition or extension of any kind. Lose the ascension and we risk losing the comfort of hope — that one day our weak bodies will be like his glorious body, that the same Jesus who ascended will return as judge and king. And he will return as a man too — for he did not slip off his humanity to get on with the task of being the exalted Son of God, but has taken it into the very presence of God, wedding us to him for ever, reminding us once again of God’s commitment to restore his creation.
The ascension does not mark the end of Jesus’ work on earth but the continuation of it through the church. Our mission can be carried out with confidence because of the position our master now occupies, with all places subject to his rule and all people subject to his oversight, including the places we inhabit and the people we encounter, even today.
As the ascended Lord, he lays claim not just to the church but to all realms of life; and his heavenly location redraws the way we think about our ‘location’ — how we live in our earthly ‘spaces’, given the one from whom we take our bearing. Our lives are oriented around the reality of the risen and ascended Christ, his heavenly Lordship investing today’s apparently menial tasks with eternal significance.
For further reflection and action
An old adage suggests that some Christians can be too heavenly-minded to be of any earthly use. In keeping with our reflections on Christ’s ascension, how far is it important for us to be heavenly-minded precisely so that we can be of earthly use (see Colossians 3:1)?
Read and reflect on some of the passages in Hebrews that describe Jesus’ ascension and ministry as the great high priest: 1:3; 2:9; 4:14–16; 6:19–20; 7:23-8:2; 10:19–25; 12:2.
Try to chat with a fellow Christian this week about the ongoing significance of the ascension for our lives as disciples of Christ.
Visit LICC to find out more or get an overview of the Biblical narrative and the ways it can shape us by reading the Introduction to Whole Life, Whole Bible from the Whole Life, Whole Bible book.