Summary: The resurrected Jesus was vindicated and glorified by returning to the heavenly Father where he serves as our priest and mediator.
ASCENSION DAY AND THE REVELATION OF JESUS CHRIST
REVELATION CHAPTER 4:
Brothers and Sisters:
As we begin the prayers for Holy Communion today, the scenes described in Revelation regarding the heavenly altar came to mind.
The Ascension Day Prayer from the Book of Common Prayer expresses in liturgical prayer the truth Contained in some of the striking scenes in The Revelation of Jesus Christ which describe the continual prayers and praise offered God there..
One Prayer for Ascension Day is as follows:
Grant we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; SO WE MAY ALSO IN HEART AND MIND THITHER ASCEND, AND WITH HIM CONTINUALLY DWELL, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.
That collect takes us immediately to the holy of holies in heaven as do other prayers. The Gospel reading from St. Luke 24:49 states that Jesus was near Bethany with his disciples, he lifted up his hands in blessing and ascended to the Father. It says the Disciples worshipped Him and were continually praining and blessing God for this event. In St. Paul’s writings and other places it is written that Jesus has been glorified by sitting at the right hand of God and there continually intercedes on our behalf.
One of my prayers at the outset of worship is this:
O God of peace, who hast taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength; By the might of thy Holy Spirit lift us, we pray thee, to thy presence, where we may be still and know that thou art God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Those prayers help us understand Revelation chapter 4 where John writes:
“After this I had a vision of an open door to heaven, and I heard the trumpetlike voice. . .saying, “Come up here . . .At once I was caught up in spirit. . . “
The Book of Hebrews stresses that through Jesus Christ we have immediate access to the Father. We have here “no continuing city, but we seek the one that is to come. Through him [then] let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise. . .” Hebrew 13:14.
Just as the disciples, immediately after witnessing the Ascension worshipped Jesus Christ and offered praise to God, so we are follow their example.
Though the author of John the Gospel may not be John the Revelator, the writings of both books contain a large amount of liturgical material.
John’s Gospel opens with the Logos hymn which occupies most of the first chapter. The Revelation of Jesus Christ begins with this in chapter 1:10 “I was caught up in spirit on the Lord’s day.” He doesn’t explicitly say he was caught at the Lord’s Day Eucharist, but it is possible that was his intention. There are liturgical hymns in almost every chapter of Revelation. Like John, we too are to be caught up in the spirit on the Lord’’s day as we worship. And the Holy Spirit, the power on High that Jesus promised, aids us in worship helps us in prayer when we don’t know what to say.
One of the hymns in The Revelation sounds very familiar to us, for part of it is in the Service of Holy Communion.
Rev 4:8 describes the six winged creatures that day and night exclaim “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God almighty. The older version of this is found in Isaiah 6:3. In Isaiah, it is the six winged seraphim who sing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts. All the earth is filled with his glory!” This we sing at every meeting where we celebrate Holy Communion and offer our praises, our souls, our lives back to God.
Now according to one old understanding of the geography of the universe, our world is a flat one betwixt hell below and heaven above. John the Revelator uses this cosmology when he pictures himself being in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and popping into heaven to see what is going on. He uses his mental furniture derived from Isaiah 6 to describe the event.
Since this is Ascensiontide and we are talking in our prayers of ascending with Christ to the Father, lets take a quick look at the Gospels.
Matthew appears to have a final leaf missing from the manuscript. Jesus is on a mountain top, he gives the Great Commission, and the stary ends abruptly. The longer ending of Mark’s Gospel tersely says Jesus said certain things and then recites the familiar formula that He was received up into heaven and sits at the right hand of God.