We make a lot of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, but sadly the Ascension takes a back seat. Yet without the Ascension we have an incomplete gospel, and an uncertain hope.
In the ascension we see the continuing life and victory of Jesus, without it we would have to assume that he died a second time. Without the ascension there is no assurance of a mediator. Without the ascension there is no sense of our own citizenship in Heaven.
The saints of old loved to speak of the fact that ‘there is a Man in the Glory,’ a forgotten but beautiful phrase. It reminds us that the incarnation is continuing, that the One who took on flesh and became human, still possesses our humanity. In the incarnation he didn’t become less than God and in the exaltation he didn’t stop being Man.
As various hymn writers put it, “Look you saints! the sight is glorious: see the Man of sorrows now, from the fight returned victorious, every knee to Him shall bow: Crown Him! Crown Him! Crowns become the Victor’s brow…. Jesus takes the highest station: O what joy the sight affords..” “The head that once was crowned with thorns, is crowned with glory now; a royal diadem adorns the mighty Victor’s brow. He lives… He lives… I know that my redeemer lives. The highest place that heaven affords, Is His by sovereign right…” “Far above all! Far above all! God has exalted Him far above all! Crown Him as Lord, at His feet humbly fall, Jesus, Christ Jesus is far above all!” “Jesus the Saviour reigns, the God of truth and love; when He had purged our stains, He took His seat above; lift up your heart, lift up your voice, rejoice, again I say, rejoice!” “Crown Him with many crowns, the Lamb upon the throne… Crown Him the Lord of love: behold His hands and side. Those wounds yet visible above in beauty glorified..” “God is gone up on high with a triumphant noise;… God in the flesh below, for us He reigns above…” “Arise, my soul arise, shake off thy guilty fears: the bleeding sacrifice in my behalf appears; before the throne my surety stands, my name is written on His hands. He ever lives above, for me to intercede, His all redeeming love His precious blood to plead;…” “He lives, all glory to His name; He lives my Saviour, still the same; What joy the blessed assurance gives, I know that my Redeemer lives!” Wonderful! Glorious!
Yes, the ascension is vitally important to the gospel, without it there is no continuing incarnation, no Man in the glory, no Advocate or Representative, no hope, but with it we have everything!