Celebrate the Ascension of Christ
Celebrate the Ascension of Christ
Thursday 25th May 2017 is the day that the Christian Church celebrates the ascension of Jesus Christ.
If we gloss over the truth of Ascension Day then we rob ourselves of a most important doctrine, for without the Ascension, the work of Christ would be incomplete.
Perhaps because Ascension Day falls on a weekday it doesn’t get the attention it deserves. This is a pity because it is full of significance in the historical life of Jesus when on Earth - and his continuing ministry for us in heaven.
George M Philip said this: “His ascension into heaven and His being seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty is the climax of the whole of His life and work. It is the seventh and final ‘peak point’ in the experience of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ: His birth, His baptism, His temptation, His transfiguration, His crucifixion, His resurrection and His ascension. Here is the climax of it all. He came, he lived, He died, He rose, He ascended into the presence if the glory of the Father, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”
Although the Ascension occupies a place on the church’s calendar, it is far from being prominent in Christian thought. It seems to be overshadowed by Good Friday and outshone by the glory of the Easter morning. Unfortunately this means that many Christians miss the tremendous truth that the Ascension of Jesus Christ has to teach us.
The gospel writer Luke is renowned as a careful historian. When he recorded the birth of Jesus he rooted the event in its historical setting within the Roman Empire. He continues that same preciseness at the end of our Lord’s earthly ministry by recalling the place of the Ascension - at Bethany. He dates the event - 40 days after the resurrection on Easter Day. He emphases the presence of eyewitnesses - the Ascension took place, he writes; "before their very eyes" (Acts 1:9). Yes, the Ascension was a real event of history.
John MacArthur wrote these words: “The story of Jesus began in heaven when He left and came to earth. And it ends when He leaves earth to return to heaven. The story began with condescension and ends with ascension. Began with incarnation and ends with exaltation. Begins with expectation and ends with consummation. It began with the Son of God being born of a virgin, descending to earth and it ends with the Son of God being born from the dead, ascending to heaven. The story began with hope unrealized and ends with hope fully realized. It began with a promise and ends with a fulfilment and a new promise.”
Let me highlight some of the importance of the ascension:
1. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has been exalted as Lord, Prince and Saviour
2. The ascension of Christ reminds us that it was He who has sent the Holy Spirit to empower believers.
3. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has gone to begin the preparations for our eternal home.
4. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has taken the headship of the church.
5. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has defeated Satan.
6. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has passed the work of evangelism to His followers.
7. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has given ministry gifts to His Church
8. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He has begun the blessed work of intercession on behalf of His people
9. The ascension of Christ reminds us that He now stands ready to return in God's perfect time.
Sing, O heavens! O earth, rejoice!
Angel harp and human voice,
Round him, in his glory, raise
Your ascended Saviour's praise.
Ps Arnallt Morgan