Picking up again on last weeks subject I want to highlight the absolute need of the ascension for a fully fledged and true Christian faith. The danger perhaps is more so for those of us who don’t follow a yearly liturgy that forces us to dwell on certain parts of the story. Having said that, even among those who do, is the full significance really grasped. Materials are numerous for Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost, but there’s a dearth when it comes to the Ascension, yet without a proper understanding and proclamation of the ascension it’s all in danger of being a house of cards.
The ascension forces us once again to think about who Jesus was, his nature, his being, his work, his entry into space and time. In what way did he ascend into heaven and how? The answers to these questions will determine the kind of Jesus we believe in and the faith we have.
Throughout church history there have always been those who have struggled with the exact nature of the historical Jesus. Was he God? was he a man who became God? Was he just a good man? What happened at the resurrection? After the resurrection was he gradually moving from the physical to the spiritual? What’s he like in Heaven now?
The reality is that:
- Without the full incarnation – real God dwelling in real human flesh this side of Adam – there is no true identification and engagement with us in our predicament and therefore any hope of salvation.
- Without the full bodily resurrection there is simply no salvation within history for us.
- Without the real bodily ascension there is no anchor within the veil.
- Without the real bodily presence in heaven there would be no hope of heaven.
Any attempts to dehumanise Christ at any part of the story and leave us with a spiritual Christ end up leaving us with nothing.
The writer to the Hebrews leaves us with no doubt that Jesus was God, that he was made like us in every way, that he was tempted, suffered, learned obedience, died in our behalf, rose again and ascended into heaven, having wrought eternal salvation for all those who will trust in him.
In the words of the Apostles Creed:
I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic (universal) church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen