I want to consider one or two aspects of the ascension which can speak to us in a practical way. Quite often we overlook the significance of the Ascension and I feel we impoverish ourselves by doing this. The implications of the Ascension crop up in all sorts of contexts that we tend to forget. We need to grasp that the ascension is an important part of the work of Christ. Paul in his letter to the Philippians demonstrates this,
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
The New International Version. (2011). (Php 2:5–11). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
When we look at this passage we tend to think mainly of the verses that emphasise the incarnation and the saving work of Christ but we also need to see that Christ is now exalted to the highest place and this was accomplished through the Ascension. This gives us the context of his exaltation and the very reason that we bow before him as Lord of all. The Ascension of Jesus leads to his exaltation in glory. Through his exaltation, we learn that he is the great high priest in the heavenly places.
34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us
The New International Version. (2011). (Ro 8:34). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Jesus is at the right hand of the Father interceding for us, this is a result of his ascension and this should be a comfort to us because we can see from this passage that the Lord’s intimate care for us is demonstrated here. It is because he is the exalted Lord that he can intercede for us.
Also because Jesus is exalted to the highest place that gives us a real encouragement to approach the throne of grace,
14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
The New International Version. (2011). (Heb 4:14–16). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
The writer emphasises how we can be encouraged to boldly approach the throne of Grace because we have a high priest who understands all of our difficulties and temptations. Here is one who is truly approachable and this gives us a real incentive to pray. The vision we sometimes have of God being distant and unapproachable is contradicted by this passage, rather here is a God who understands us and in his exaltation draws near to us and encourages us to draw near to him.
There are many other implications of the Ascension that we need to look at but I wanted to start with these.
Glorious Lord, we thank you that we can come to you boldly and bring all our cares and concerns to you. We praise you for your willingness to come down to this earth to live and die for us, we also thank you that as the risen and exalted Christ you continue to pour out upon us the blessings of your grace. Lord help us to lift up our hearts to you and that by seeing you that we will be transformed by your powerful grace Amen