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The Significance of Ascension Day

Today is Ascension Day, the day we celebrate and commemorate when Jesus, in the words of the Apostle’s Creed, “ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.”

After Jesus' resurrection, He appeared to the disciples, apostles and many other believers for 40 days before returning to heaven (Acts 1:3).

Why The Ascension Was Necessary

In his farewell discourse, Jesus explained to his disciples that it was actually good that he was going away, since from heaven he will send “another advocate,” referring to the Holy Spirit. This Holy Spirit, Jesus says, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and lead his followers into all truth.

John the Baptist had baptized with water but now Christ would pour out the Holy Spirit. All that John’s ministry had been pointing to was now being fully realized!

The apostles were with Jesus and as He spoke of the Holy Spirit’s coming He was physically lifted up, ascending into heaven. The apostles continued looking up watching Christ and two angels appeared. The angels gave a promise as well that day. “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (1:11).

Angels Proclaim The News

It has been noted that at the great events of Jesus life angels have made announcements. At his birth, resurrection, and here at His ascension the angels clarify the significance of the event for the people there. His ascension means that His redemptive work is finished and He goes to sit at the right hand of God the Father.

During those “many proofs” Jesus had been appearing and disappearing. Now, without a doubt Jesus was making clear to the apostles that they were not to expect to see Him again in this way. We should be aware that looking for an appearance of Jesus in this manner, short of the end of time, is not to be expected. In fact, after the ascension of Christ the Apostles themselves were not to see Jesus in this way.

The Promise of His Presence

Jesus’ ascension does not mean that He has gone away. Before Jesus ascended, He promised that wherever we may be He is with us (Matthew 28:20).

The difference is that after the ascension, Jesus does not show us Himself anymore, or at least not until the next time, which will be the end of the world or when we die, whichever comes first. And that is a good thing, too, for suppose Jesus had gone on showing Himself as He did before His resurrection. Where would He be this evening? In Sioux Falls, South Dakota or Orange City, Iowa? We would say, “If He is there, then He is not here.”

But because Jesus has ascended, His people all around the world know that He is with them. He has promised it. He is with us now even more powerfully than when the disciples saw Him. We live, then, in the presence of our ascended, ever-present Lord. Because He is with us, we cannot be destroyed. Jesus has made the way to victory for us. He leads us that way, gives us strength and courage, and finally brings us to the eternal glories of heaven. We go on, then, from the ascension as did the first disciples “with great joy” (Luke 24:52).

Serving the risen and triumphant Christ with you,
Pastor Kirk


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Kirk is pastor of Living Word Free Lutheran church in Sioux Falls, SD.

"God gathers the outcast and brings them into His dwelling." - Pastor Kirk. Our latest message is online at https://t.co/73ZyVw93Y4

Posted on 08/21/2017
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