Summary: Explains the significance of the ascension of Jesus and why he needed to return to heaven and how that is important to us.
This coming Thursday is a significant event in the Christian calendar, a day we often overlook. In fact, out of curiosity can anyone tell me without looking what we celebrate this Thursday? We will celebrate the ascension of Jesus into heaven. When was the last time you celebrated the ascension of Jesus into heaven? We usually remember Good Friday when Jesus was crucified and buried, and we usually celebrate Easter when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, but the ascension of Jesus is not usually on our list. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard even a sermon on Jesus’ ascension. And yet the Bible teaches us this is a very important event in understanding who Jesus is, and who we are as his followers.
After Jesus was resurrected from the dead, the Scriptures tell us Jesus appeared to his disciples (Acts 1) and many others (1 Cor. 15) over a forty day period proving he was alive and teaching them about God’s kingdom. After forty days Jesus gave his disciples some last minute instructions about waiting for the Holy Spirit and being witnesses for Jesus, and immediately he was taken up to heaven. We often overlook the ascension of Jesus as a somewhat trivial importance. But that’s not the way his disciples and the early Christians saw it. It was essential for their understanding of Jesus. Why is it important that Jesus went back to heaven, and what difference does it make for you and me?
Why it is important that Jesus returned to heaven?
1) He could gain authority and control over all things
The our passage from Ephesians it tells us that Jesus ascended to heaven so that God the Father could exalt his Son to his right hand and give him authority and control over everything.
19 I pray that you will begin to understand the incredible greatness of his power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else in this world or in the world to come. 22 And God has put all things under the authority of Christ, and he gave him this authority for the benefit of the church.
God the Father has given his Son Jesus authority over everything. He gave the steering wheel to the universe over to Jesus. He is the King of kings, Lord of lords, CEO of CEO’s, President of presidents. God the Father honored him because he was obedient to his Father and completed his Father’s work and suffered for our sake (Phil. 2:6-11).
This means Jesus is in control. I have to be honest, because when I was studying this, the thought occurred to me, ‘what difference does it make if Jesus is in control or God the Father is in control?’ But the more I thought about this the more I found it significant that Jesus is in charge because he is able to rule as one who knows what it is like to be one of us.
God’s Son became a human being just like you, experienced all the same things you and I experience, he is able to rule as one who knows what it is like to have a mom and dad, to have friends, to love, to be tempted, to suffer, to know and experience pain, betrayal, abandonment, even death. By handing control over to the Son, Jesus is able to rule with first hand knowledge of what real people are like because he became one. I am not saying God the Father is not loving or compassionate, obviously he is, but the Father is not able to identify with us as God the Son is. The greatest King in the OT of the Bible was King David who began life not as a prince in court, but as a shepherd, the youngest of seven sons of a nobody named Jesse from Bethlehem. The Scriptures tell us Jesus will reign until everything on earth is under his control, and then he will hand the steering wheel back over to God the Father.
Because of Jesus’ authority in heaven the NT writers gave Jesus the title Lord. The earliest declaration of faith was, “Jesus is Lord”. By declaring ‘Jesus is Lord,’ you were confessing that Jesus resurrected from the dead, and is now exalted to the right hand of God the Father, and that he has authority over everything.
By declaring this it also means you are allowing Jesus to take the steering wheel of your life and give him control over the direction of your life. Most of us accept the ascension of Jesus as a historical fact, we accept the reality that Jesus is at the Father’s right hand and that he has control over everything but have you given him the keys and asked him to take control of your life? God the Father has given control over to the Son but have you? Are you allowing Jesus to choose your path, to guide your everyday decisions, or are you still making all the decisions? Jesus is Lord of the universe but is he Lord of your life?