The Ascension of Jesus on May 13 is a great day. Notice I didn’t write the Ascension was a great day. It is important for us to keep the Ascension in the present tense.
You know there are those who would rather not talk about the Ascension. It is for some, hard to explain. Let me put it this way: Luke wrote the story of the Ascension to a first century audience. I am not about to say these early Christians were primitive. I am more willing to say “they got it.” They immediately understood the story. We however, over the centuries, have let the culture interpret the story rather than take this Good News of the Ascension to the culture. You see, the world would like to think of Jesus as “out of sight, out of mind.”
Furthermore, they might give us credit for Jesus being a good guy and he died and rose again—but so what? He is gone. Well, Christians say in the Nicene Creed, “he ascended into heaven” not as the end of the story but only the beginning.
After all, we do not blink when we refer to a prince ascending to the throne and being crowned as king. This is exactly what is taking place in the ascension of Jesus. He has ascended as the King of kings. And as t-h-e King, he rules or reigns over his kingdom. He is in charge. It is his show. Our job is to serve. We are obedient. Obedience is derived from the Latin audire from which we get the word “audio.” Obedience means to listen. We listen for the Word.
By the way, we are on earth. We are here on the ground. We are below. That does not mean Jesus is removed, or absent, or long gone. It does mean his kingdom can be found on earth just as it is in heaven. But that requires some doing. It requires work. In order for his kingdom to come here on earth, as it is in heaven, it involves a work of God — or better put — the power of the Holy Spirit. One more time, recall Luke in Acts and the story of the Ascension. Only moments before Jesus ascended to rule, he said to the disciples who were struggling with this concept of the kingdom, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” (Acts 1:8)
Now, we move or step forward with our journey in Christ from the Ascension to the Pentecost experience and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Being clear about the Holy Spirit and how it works in our life and relates us to one another and to the will of God is important. But for now, I want to emphasize that without the Ascension, or if we ignored the Ascension, or if when reciting the Nicene Creed we crossed our fingers when it came to the part of Jesus “ascending” then we would clearly no longer be obedient, but disobedient. We would not be under the rule of Jesus as King of kings and life would be out of control and sin would be back in charge. No thanks. Give me the Ascension. And I’ll take the Holy Spirit to go with it.
Image credit: Vasilyevskiy chin, 15th century. Public Domain.