Celebrating Jesus’ Ascension

Jesus’ ascension is just as important as his birth, his cross, or his resurrection.

That’s why we ought to celebrate Ascension Sunday just as we would Christmas, Good Friday, or Easter. It might be hard to get our family and friends to exchange presents, or our offices to throw a party, but at least we can talk about it and celebrate it at church! I hope your church celebrated yesterday and if not, maybe you’ll think about celebrating next year. Why?

Because Jesus’ ascension is the ultimate fulfillment of the Father’s plan for humanity.

From the foundation of the world the Father planned to adopt humanity into his life as his children (Eph. 1:5.) In order for this to happen  the Son became one of us as the man Jesus. That’s Christmas. Then he crucified our sinful humanity in his crucifixion so that our sin would no longer blind us to the Father’s love. That’s Good Friday. Then Jesus resurrected our humanity in his resurrection so that we could live forever in the life of the Trinity. That’s Easter.

If Easter Sunday is where we stop telling the story then we know that humanity has been transformed in Jesus but we don’t know our ultimate destiny. Our ultimate destiny is to live forever in the Trinity as adopted children of the Father in Jesus. When Jesus ascended into heaven he took humanity with him and finished the Father’s plan to bring us to himself and seat us at his right hand as his beloved children. As the Scripture says:

God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus ~ Ephesians 2:6

That’s something to celebrate! Our Daddy created us to live with him, in his Son, through their Spirit, forever. Now, in the ascension of Jesus Christ, the Father’s purpose in creating us has been accomplished. Jesus has scooped humanity up into his life with the Father and seated us in himself at our Father’s right hand.

~ Jonathan Stepp

7 comments so far

  1. Paul Kurts on

    AMEN. Jesus’ Resurrection is important. But, there were many resurrections back to life in scripture. Both Old and New Testament alike. The thing that Jesus did which no one else could have done was to Ascend. Ascend back to the Father and be seated in the Heavenlies with Papa. And , as you note He took ALL of humanity to the Father and SAT us down with Himself in the Father’s presence. Objectively this does complete the Triune God’s Plan for His children. Jesus is the ONLY person who COULD have taken mankind up to the Father, which was His purpose in coming to this earth to begin with. All of Christ’s accomplishments were vital, but none MORE vital than His Ascension.

    Paul Kurts
    http://www.newlifewcg.org
    http://www.pastorpaulsinteractiveblog.blogspot.com

  2. Ted Johnston on

    Amen to both Jonathan’s post and Paul’s comment on the Ascension. I would add only that Jesus’ resurrection was unique (other Biblical instances of people being brought back to life are resuscitations, not resurrections). To be resurrected is to be glorified.

    Because we are included in Jesus, the resurrected/glorified and ascended human, we too will experience the resurrection/glorification of our bodies. At his parousia (which brings the general resurrection), we will stand with Jesus, glorified in resurrection bodies, in which we will “see” Jesus as he truly is (and thus see ourselves for who we, in Jesus, truly are). Come Jesus!!

  3. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks for the comments, guys! Very helpful and encouraging.

  4. Paul Kurts on

    Ted, I understand what you are saying. There are those who would argue, however, that to ‘resuscitate’ someone would be done by another person before actual burial after which it would not be possible to do so. And that after one had been dead for an extended period of time, in some cases years, that to be brought up out of a grave back to physical life was not resuscitation but resurrection by God back to physical life. Jesus was different in that He was resurrected as a Spirit to live forever, not die again later as did those others who were brought back to life.

    Personally, I don’t see a problem with either interpretation of the words.

    The main point as you pointed out is I Jn.3:2. And that is what is important.

    Love to all,

    Paul

    http://www.newlifewcg.org
    http://www.pastorpaulsinteractiveblog.blogspot.com

    .

  5. Pastor Jonathan on

    I think I see your point, Paul – the word “resuscitate” has the connotation of something like giving someone CPR and re-starting their heart. Obviously, miracles like Lazarus coming back to life after 3 days in the tomb were way more than CPR.

    However, like Ted, I do not use the word “resurrection” to describe what happened to Lazarus and others in the miracles of the OT and NT. Most of the people I minister to are already struggling to understand Jesus’ ongoing humanity. To help them visualize Jesus as he is now I keep referring to his resurrected, glorified, transformed humanity (as described in 1 Cor. 15.) Since Lazarus and others who came back to life did not receive their glorified bodies at that moment – in fact they died again, sometime later – I have chosen not to refer to those miracles as resurrections in order to avoid confusion over the nature of Jesus’ resurrected body and the nature of humanity’s resurrection at the end of the age.

    I find Hebrews 11:35 helpful in this regard. It speaks of OT women of faith who “received back their dead, raised to life again” and then of others who were tortured so that they might gain a “better resurrection.” In Greek the word for “resurrection” is used both to speak of those who were “raised to life again” and those who hoped to gain a better “resurrection”, but clearly the author has two different things in mind because he calls the second kind of resurrection “better.” The second one he talks about is the glorification of the flesh that Jesus experienced, the “better” resurrection, while the first one was merely a resurrection back to normal life. Even though the Greek uses the same word in both instances the addition of the word “better” shows that the author does not have the same thing in mind in both instances. In order to preserve this distinction the NIV does not translate the first instance of the Greek word as “resurrection” but says “raised to life again.” I think the NIV translators are seeking to make clear the distinction that the author is communicating between a “resurrection” miracle in which someone – like Lazarus – comes back to life but is not transformed, and thus must die again some day, and the “better” resurrection, i.e. the resurrection of the dead in which our bodies are transformed and glorified, as Jesus was at his resurrection.

    So, taking my cue from the NIV, when I speak of the miracles where the dead were raised I refer to that as “being brought back to life” and when I talk about Jesus’ rising from the dead and the hope we have of eternal life I call that “resurrection.” When I compare the two I even point out to people that those, like Lazarus, who were brought back to life still had to die a second time in order to be resurrected to eternal life in the glory of their resurrected bodies. My hope is that this distinction will help people appreciate what we mean we say that Jesus is “human forever” – he is not merely a human who came back to life but a human who has been resurrected, his body transformed and glorified and made into an eternal body.

  6. tjbrassell on

    This is all good clarification and education in the Gospel that I find helpful! Thanks brothers! Livin’, Lovin’ and Learnin’ with all of you in the grace of the Trinity!

  7. Paul Kurts on

    Thanks for the clarification, Jonathan. This is exactly the way I have always preached it. This makes it so clear. Thanks again.

    Paul

    http://www.newlifewcg.org
    http://www.pastorpaulsinteractiveblog.blogspot.com


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