The Good News of the Ascension

The Good News of the Ascension

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This time of year offers many goodbyes and departures. Students say goodbye to teachers with whom they’ve spent the last nine months. Graduates bid farewell at high school or college, moving ahead into uncertain futures. Kids are leaving for camps. While these are exciting times, they also include an element of sadness as one departs and another remains. Departures, while necessary, are often difficult and seem to provide little initial benefit to those who stay behind.

After Jesus finished His mission on earth, he assembled His followers, offered final instructions, and ascended through the clouds into heaven. His disciples must have felt sadness at His leaving, wondering what good could come from it. Yet, they’d soon see that our Lord’s ascension would directly bless them in a number of ways, just as it does believers today. While Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection are vital to our faith, His ascension gives us encouragement, guaranteeing certain truths for our good.

JESUS IS REIGNING IN VICTORY

The writer of the Book of Hebrews says when Jesus had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 10:12). We had a sin problem that needed remedied. No sacrifice or offering would suffice until Christ, the perfect one, died in our place, taking our sins upon himself on the Cross. Then, rising on the third day, He forever conquered sin and death. And, having completed what He came to earth to do, He returned to Heaven to take His place by the Father’s side.

Christ’s ascension reminds us that we do not have to remain condemned by our sins. We have victory by believing in Him, confessing our sins to the one who already paid our penalty and stands ready to forgive us. We are free!

Not only does He have all authority over sin, but over everything. As He told the disciples, “all authority in heaven and in earth has been given to me,” (Matt. 28:18). From His place in heaven, Jesus reigns over every problem, trial, and challenge I face. What comfort to know that we can look to Him in the midst of our struggles!

JESUS IS PRAYING FOR BELIEVERS
The ascended Christ is praying for His followers, interceding on our behalf to the Father (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). In the midst of our struggles, isn’t it encouraging to know our Lord is thinking about us, praying for us to stand firm and overcome? He is! The prayer of Jesus recorded in John’s Gospel offers insight in the kinds of things Jesus is praying for us: that we would become more holy, that Christians would be unified, that God’s love would be shown through us, and that we would see the glory of Christ and join Him in eternity (John 17:20-25).

Robert Murray M’Cheyne, a 19th-century Scottish minister, said, “If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet the distance makes no difference; He is praying for me!”

JESUS HAS SENT HIS HOLY SPIRIT
We read in the Book of Acts that after ascending to God’s right hand, Jesus received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit, which He poured out on believers (Acts 2:33). This outpouring took place on the Day of Pentecost. Jesus had promised His followers a helper who would give them power to be His witnesses throughout the known world (John 14:26; Acts 1:8). Christ has given us a mandate to proclaim His name to everyone we know. It seems an overwhelming task, but He doesn’t send us in our own strength. He empowers us through the Holy Spirit to accomplish this mission. Christ’s ascension released the provision of His Holy Spirit to every follower. We need only to ask and we will receive the baptism in the Holy Spirit.

JESUS WILL RETURN SOON
Jesus urged His disciples to be encouraged, knowing that if He left, He would return for them someday so that they could be with Him (John 14:3). After giving final instructions, Jesus ascended through the clouds. We can imagine the disciples staring into an empty sky in amazement when two angels appeared and asked, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven,” (Acts 1:11). That is the promise we have from our Lord, that He will return to receive us. At the rapture, we will rise up to meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17). We will join Him for eternity in a place free of sorrow, pain, or death (Revelation 21:4). Christ’s departure reminds us of His return for us.

The ascension of our Lord is good news for Christ followers. Let us live like we believe it. As we face difficulties and tragedies, let us remember that Christ reigns today. And, from His Father’s right hand, He is praying for us. Let us remember that Jesus has given us His Holy Spirit to comfort, help, and empower us to accomplish His mandate to share the gospel with everyone. Finally, His ascension guarantees His return. And some day, we, too, will go up to be with Him.

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