It had been 40 days since Jesus rose from the grave. He has appeared to his disciples and over 500 other people. So, what now? What is the next step on Jesus’ to-do list?  What comes after the redemption of the world line item?

I think we often love to celebrate the resurrection, we love the Pentecost account and hearing about the early church. But there is something that gets skipped over between those parts. In pop theology today we skip over the ascension like it never happened. The truth is that if Jesus rose from the dead and never ascended into heaven, he would still be walking around with us right now. I know that would be nice to have Jesus still walking around with us, but we know that he is not. So we have to look to the Ascension to understand why. Why the Ascension? Why ascend at all? Why not just stay here and hang out with the guys?

Here is the answer- Jesus had to go. I know it sounds weird but Jesus himself says it. Listen to him speak to his disciples, John 14:1-3:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

Jesus still had work to do even if his mission was complete here on earth. He ascended into heaven so that he could begin the work of preparing a place ready for you and me for eternity.  Jesus completed His earthly mission of bringing salvation to all people and physically was lifted up from this world into heaven. The meaning and fullness of Christ’s Resurrection is given in the Ascension. Having completed His mission in this world as the Savior, He returned to the Father in heaven who sent Him into the world.

Even after hearing Jesus explain why he must leave the disciples do not want to see him go. Jesus says that it is actually better for them, and us today, that he goes. Listen to John 16:7:

“But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

The counselor, the helper, the friend will be sent to us after Jesus is gone. This will be revealed in its fulness at Pentecost (more on that in a couple weeks). This means that we are not alone. Even though Jesus left us, we received a Counselor who will be with us through the joy, pain, celebration, struggle, peace, persecution, etc.

The Ascension is a necessary element and one that shouldn’t be ignored or passed over. We learn that it was not only necessary for Jesus to ascend but it was good that he did. Just remember the next time that life is getting you down and you think there is no hope…you have a Friend in “high places!” The ascended Christ has everything, and I mean everything under control, for your good. Thank God for the Ascension.

Go back and read the Ascension story in Acts 1. After reading the Ascension story again, what stands out to you as you read the text?

I look forward to hearing what you have to say. Have a great day!