The Importance of the Ascension

In a succinct manner, Kevin DeYoung distills the bible’s account of the Ascension to make it relevant for Christians. He didn’t mention Christ’s Priesthood directly which is what He just accomplished in His death before he ascended.

Heb. 5.1-2 tells us the representative nature of a priest that he needs to mediate ignorant and straying people before God. A human High Priest knows this inherently since he is also somewhat ignorant and straying. Christ knows our nature exhaustively (since He is Creator) and can represent us to God. This is why He entered the material realm in a humble state instead of a warrior such as when He appeared to Joshua (Jos. 5.13-15).

In Is. 42 He is set forth as a servant, One who will not break a bruised reed or quench a smoldering wick. This is what humanity needed and received in the earthly ministry of Jesus before He ascended as a Priest on His throne (Zech. 6.11-13 cf. Zech. 3.8-9).

Jesus was King over Israel before they asked for a king like all the other nations (1 Sam. 8.7). Therefore, in His humanity, Jesus was born a king as his rightful position.

By Kevin DeYoung

Having triumphed over death and the devil in his resurrection, Christ ascended into heaven locally, visibly, and bodily—locally in that he spatially left earth below for heaven above, visibly in that the disciples saw with their own eyes (as a public event) that he departed from them, and bodily in that the physical flesh of the Son of God is no longer with us on earth.

We can think of Christ’s state of exaltation (as opposed to his state of humiliation) as consisting of four events, each part tracking with a phrase in the Apostles’ Creed: resurrection (he rose again from the dead), ascension (he ascended into heaven), session (and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty), and physical return (from there he will come to judge the living and the dead).

The ascension is more prominent in Scripture than we might realize. Luke describes the ascension in the most detail, first in his Gospel (Luke 24:50-53) and then in Acts (Acts 1:9-11). Peter’s Pentecost sermon on Pentecost is, in part, about the ascension and enthronement of Christ (Acts 2:32-36).

Likewise, John’s Gospel is full of references to the ascension of the Son of Man (John 3:13, 6:62) and the importance of Jesus returning to the Father (John 14:2-3; 16:5). The ascension is not simply how Jesus gets to heaven, it is a further fulfillment and vindication of the triumph of the resurrection (John 16:5; 20:17).

It’s no wonder that the ascension is highlighted throughout the New Testament, as a necessary precursor (1) to the giving of Messianic gifts (Eph. 4:8-10), (2) to the intercession of our High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16), and (3) to the subjection of all things under Christ’s feet (1 Peter 3:22).

What, then, does the oft-overlooked ascension mean for us?

First, the ascension means that we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1Rom. 8:34).

Second, the ascension means God’s people are, in a manner of speaking, already in heaven. We set our minds on things that are above, because our lives are hidden with Christ who dwells above (Col. 3:2-3).

Third, the ascension means we can receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Once ascended to heaven, Jesus sent another Helper (John 14:16; 16:7) to give us power from on high and to be with us forever.

Fourth, the ascension means human flesh sits enthroned in heaven. God has granted all power and authority to a man (Matt. 28:19Eph. 1:21-22). Jesus Christ is exercising the dominion that human beings were made to have from the beginning (Gen. 1:28). The ruin of the first Adam is being undone by the reign of the second.

Because of Christ’s ascension we know that the resurrection is real, the incarnation continues, Christ’s humanity lives on in heaven, the Spirit of Jesus can live in our hearts, and a flesh-and-blood, divine human being rules the universe.

Theological Primer: The Ascension

Author: squeaky2

Education: BA, M.Div., BBA Profession: Carpenter (retired)

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