I believe Jesus ascended into heaven.

Acts 1:1-11    Ephesians 1:15-23    July 21, 2013

 When I was in elementary school, an aunt who lived in South Carolina was diagnosed with cancer.  So my mom went by herself to South Carolina to spend time with her older sister.  Mom was only gone about a week, but it was different around home.  Mom got to spend quality time with her sister.  But the five of us Grimm children were at home. 

 With Mom away, we knew what we had to do.  We were on our best behavior.  I don’t recollect any major squabbles or problems while Mom was away.   But we sure did miss her.  Mom did come home and later the whole family traveled to my aunt’s funeral. 

 In a small way, this is how things are with Jesus being gone.  He is not physically present with his believers on earth.  But, we have learned much from Jesus over the years that we know how to behave while he is gone.  Yet, we know that the Church has had its share of squabbles over the years.  We are attempting to live out our faith in Jesus, and we often forget exactly where Jesus is and what he is doing during our lives.

 So there are two truths we believe about Jesus.  First, Jesus went to heaven.  He had to go away in order for the Holy Spirit to come.  Second, Jesus is our representative in heaven.  There is no other one who has the ear of God the Father Almighty like Jesus does.

 

  1. Jesus ascended into heaven (Acts 1:1-11)
    1. Theophilus – friend of God (1:1)
    2. The Gospel of Luke is about what Jesus taught
    3. This book is about the Holy Spirit guiding the apostles
    4. The body born in Bethlehem, resurrected outside Jerusalem, is the same one that went to heaven (1:2-3)
      1. No one has ascended into heaven except the Son of Man (John 3:13)
      2. Like Elisha & the company of prophets watching Elijah ascend in a whirlwind to heaven (2 Kings 2:4-12)
      3. Jesus could not be held by Mary Magdalene after his resurrection, because Jesus had to ascend to “my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” (John 20:17)
      4. The same one who descended, also ascended above all heavens (Ephesians 4:8-10)
      5. This is our religion (1 Timothy 3:16)
      6. Jesus knew that he was going here (Matthew 26:64)
      7. The disciples were on Mt. Olivet (Acts 1:12), the place where Zion will see God coming (Isaiah 40:9-11)
  2. Jesus had to go in order for the Holy Spirit to come (1:4-5)
  3. We are witnesses to Jesus until he returns (1:6-8)
  4. Two men in white robes – Jesus will return the way you saw him go into heaven (1:9-11)
  5. Luke 24:50-53 – The Eleven and their companions worshipped Jesus & blessed God
  6. We do not like it when a loved one is away.  We want the loved one nearby when they are away.  We may even get depressed, or at least melancholy.  Yet we do know how we are to act until Jesus returns. With Jesus being alive, we know that his departure, his ascension, is for a certain amount of time.  We get to act and live as though we do know that Jesus Christ is alive.  And He is alive; he is just not physically with us.  So, in the meanwhile, what is Jesus Christ doing?

 

  1. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty (Ephesians 1:15-23)
    1. Right hand – place of highest honor
      1. Enemies become footstool (Psalm 110:1)
      2. The Lord makes the poor have a seat of honor (1 Samuel 2:8)
      3. Solomon placed his mother here (1 Kings 2:19)
      4. A place prepared by Jesus’ Father (Matthew 20:23)
  2. We can have faith in Jesus (1:15)
  3. God gives us his Spirit – wisdom & revelation (1:16-19)
  4. Jesus’ human flesh is in heaven (1:20-21)
  5. Jesus rules all (1:22-23)
    1. Philippians 2:6-11 – Name above all others
    2. Psalm 8 – God is mindful of him
  6. Jesus is speaking to God on our behalf (1 John 2:1)
  7. Jesus sustains us (Hebrews 1:3)
  8. We can approach the throne with boldness (Hebrews 4:14) – Jesus is there on our behalf (Hebrews 9:24)
  9. God chose Jesus for this work (Colossians 1;15-20)
  10. We need Jesus where he is now.  But we surely do want him here on earth!  Cyril of Jerusalem helps us understand what Jesus is doing now:

“Do not think that because He is absent in the flesh He is therefore absent in the spirit; He is here in the midst of us, listening to what is said of Him, seeing our thoughts, searching our hearts and souls; He is ready even now to present all of you, as you come forward for Baptism in the Holy Spirit, to the Father.”[1]  Even though we do not see Jesus, we know he is speaking on our behalf.  That is what matters to us today.

 Jesus is not here on earth.  He is at the right hand of the Father Almighty.  Jesus Christ is speaking on our behalf to God.  He is also making sure that his rule is gaining over the whole earth.  Jesus Christ is there in heaven because he ascended there.  Because he is there, the Holy Spirit has come to us.

 We need not despair.  Though Jesus Christ is not here, it does not mean that he does not care.  It is because he cares for us that he is where he is.

 When I was in elementary school, I missed my mom when she was in South Carolina with her sister.  But I had learned enough to act like I needed to act.  As we follow Jesus Christ in this world, we also know how to act, how to live.  We live knowing that Jesus Christ is alive, speaking to the Father for us, and ruling this universe.

[1] Thomas C. Oden, The Word of Life, (HarperSanFranscisco; 1989), p. 506

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