He Came to Ascend

The song says:

I wonder, as I wander, out under the sky / How Jesus the Savior did come for to die

As much as I like this old Christmas song, I find I have to take exception with the implication that the only purpose of Jesus’ existence was his death. Certainly Jesus’ death is important, but I’ve come to believe that his ascension is even more important.

In Ephesians 1:5, Paul tells us that the whole purpose of Jesus Christ is the adoption of humanity. For us to be adopted as children of the Father, living and participating in the Trinity, the Son had to unite our human nature to himself by taking up existence as the man Jesus Christ.

This adoption of humanity into the Trinity took place at the first Christmas.

That’s when the Son of God was born into our nature and thus we were born again as children of the Father. The Son of God became the man Jesus Christ in order to bring us home to our Father, and that homecoming took place in Jesus’ ascension. As Paul says in Ephesians 2:6, were raised up with Jesus when he was raised up and we are now seated in him in heavenly realms.

Jesus’ death was one necessary step in this process of adoption and ascension.

Since we had fallen into sin and death, these had to be put to death in Jesus’ body so that our sinfulness and death would no longer be a barrier to our participation as children of the Father in his life with the Son and the Holy Spirit. So, yes, Jesus came to die – but more importantly he came to ascend to the Father’s right hand and take humanity up into the heavenly life of the Trinity.

We need to think of the shape of Jesus’ life as a “U”.

The Son of God descended from heaven into our human nature, even descending into the depth of our sin and death. But then he rose up again in the power of his resurrection and ascension – and as he returned to heaven he took us with him.

At Christmas the Son of God descended into humanity and at his Ascension he rose up again to the Father’s right hand and took humanity with him.

I wonder, as I wander, out under sky/How Jesus the Savior did ascend on high!

~ Jonathan Stepp

4 comments so far

  1. Boyd Merriman on

    That is very good. Which is why I believe the whole physical life of Jesus has to be taken in when discovering our relationship with God.

    When you celebrate Christmas, you are celebrating his death and resurrection and his ascension too. The wise men brought more than just gold. The spices they brought also represented his death and burial.

    You might say it’s a holistic view.

    I think the shedding of His glory to become a small pack of cells in Marys’ womb is as much sacrificial as dying on the cross.

    He went from Glory to glory, by sacrificing his Glory and was “buried” in the womb, was resurrected to physical life. Then he was sacrificed in glory, to be buried in the Tomb, then resurrected back to Glory.

    From Glory to glory to Glory.

    Only this time, he stayed flesh, yet Glorified. Ascending back to the Father to complete circle, bringing all of humanity with him.

    The Ultimate Sacrifice

  2. Ted Johnston on

    Wonderfully stated guys. What a joy to understand the full gospel – the full story of all Jesus was, did; is and does – for us, with us; now one of us.

  3. boyd merriman on

    I just had to leave another reply when I saw “song” and “He came to ascend”. That could only be replied with another famous song by Groucho Marx:

    Hello, I must be going.
    I cannot stay,
    I came to say
    I must be going.
    I’m glad I came
    but just the same
    I must be going.

    For my sake you must stay,
    for if you go away,
    you’ll spoil this party
    I am throwing.

    I’ll stay a week or two,
    I’ll stay the summer through,
    but I am telling you,
    I must be going.

  4. Pastor Jonathan on

    Thanks for the great comments, guys!

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