When was the last time you heard a message about the ascension (if you’ve ever heard one)?
What does the ascension mean to you?
Most of us are familiar with the birth of Christ, his life, death and resurrection, and the giving of the Spirit at Pentecost, but when it comes to the ascension that’s another matter, yet without the ascension there would be no Pentecost, a glorious and powerful experience of the presence and power of God in a tangible way.
But there is something else, something that is fundamental to our faith: without the ascension we are missing the continuing dynamic of Christ’s incarnation – a powerful truth, as powerful as his birth.
Scripture declares in no uncertain terms that the Word, God, took on “flesh like ours under sin’s domain” (Rom 8:4), made in “every way like” those he came to save (Heb 2:17). When Jesus came to earth the second person of the Trinity took on human flesh. He didn’t stop being God. He added flesh to God. The big question is what happened when he went back to heaven, did he stop being man?
As with the incarnation, so with the ascension we are in another realm.
What’s at stake here? If Jesus ceased to be man, we have no true advocate and no certain hope.
Praise God, Jesus continues to be the incarnate Son – no less. In the same way that when Jesus came to earth and took on flesh he didn’t stop being God, when he ascended to heaven he didn’t stop being human, carrying our flesh, carrying our humanity. Staggering thought isn’t it! Just as much as the incarnation itself, if not more so!
The glory of the ascension is that Jesus has redeemed, reconciled, healed and transformed our humanity and carried it right into the heart of the Trinity, and our lives are now hidden in him in the Godhead – wow, wow and wow!
That means today there is a man, a real man, Very God and Very Man, at God’s right hand who is a true and wonderful representative.
It is in this context that the writer to the Hebrews is able to say, “Therefore since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens-Jesus the Son of God-let us hold fast to the confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are yet without sin. Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.” Heb 4:14-16.
Great thought isn’t it – we have One who sympathises with us right in the heart of the Trinity, One who is our true Representative and Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).
As they used to say, “There is a Man in the glory.”
That also gives us hope of the resurrection – a man is already there, one who has conquered death and hell, and now lives eternally before the Father and the Spirit.
And here’s another thought – something has eternally changed in the Godhead…. The second Person of the Trinity, will now forever be Very God and Very Man! Chew on it! Be blessed by it!