Worship Our Ascended King
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God through which the Holy Spirit guides our hearts and minds today is recorded in Luke 24:44-53:
[Jesus] said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.(NIV)
Dear friends in Christ Jesus, our Lord,
Every four years in the last half of January there is a party in Washington D.C. For at noon on January 20, the president-elect takes office. Whether he is beginning his first term or second term, it’s a celebration. The day often begins with the inaugural parade as the president-elect travels to where he will take the oath of office. After swearing to preserve, protect, and defending the constitution of the United States, he gives his inaugural speech. Then later comes the inaugural ball with famous names and high celebration, as the pomp and circumstance gives way to fun and entertainment.
In many ways our Savior’s ascension is like a president’s inauguration. As the eternal Son of God Jesus had always ruled as King of all. But his ascension shows us that now he rules not only as the Son of God but as the Son of Man as well. Jesus, the God-man rules as our ascended King. Let us worship him.
As the Holy Spirit works in us through this word of God today, may he stir us to worship our ascended King. That is the theme today. Worship our ascended King. Worship him with joy and celebration for our Savior’s ascension is greater than any presidential inauguration. Worship our ascended King in joy and celebration. What brings us to worship in joy and celebration? First of all, 1)he has fulfilled his mission for us. And also, 2) he reigns eternally for us. Worship your ascended King.
1) He has fulfilled his mission for us
Six weeks early, late Thursday night. The disciples thought all had ended. Jesus had been arrested. They had all scattered. The news grew worse. Jesus was condemned. He was crucified. He lay dead in the tomb.
What kind of king would suffer such cruelty? Who would honor such a weak and helpless king? Jesus appeared to have failed. “He was led like a lamb to the slaughter . . . he was cut off from the land of the living” (Isaiah 53:7, 8 NIV). The heartache of losing a presidential election was nothing compared to what the disciples had felt.
But what happened to Jesus, happened to him according to his will and plan. This had been God’s promise ever since Adam and Eve had sinned. The offspring or seed of the woman would have his heal struck as he crushed Satan’s head (Genesis 3:15).
But the disciples could not see Satan’s power crushed and crumbled. They saw their Jesus dead. They saw his mission fail, or so they thought. Even after Jesus showed himself alive again, even after they had touched his resurrected body, even after they had witnessed that the same Jesus that was nailed to the cross and still bore the nail marks, the same Jesus who had certainly died, that same Jesus was alive, risen from the dead – even then, they did not fully understand that all this was part of his mission. He had not failed; he had fulfilled his mission.
Since they did not understand, the risen Jesus told them that he had explained this to them before it happened. He opened their minds so that they could put two and two together and see that all that had happened was exactly as God’s Word, recorded in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms, had said.
“Jesus said to them, ’This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44, 45)
Jesus had not failed. He had fulfilled his mission. What was that mission? Jesus had plainly told his disciples earlier: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10 NIV). Jesus was talking about you and me when he said, “What was lost.” You and I were lost in sin. Sin ruled in our hearts. The devil was our king and our sinful nature was our slave driver. Consider how easily we still fall into sin even though we believe in Jesus. Like the disciples, we easily begin to wonder how God’s promises can be true when we see evil happening around us and to us. We feel worry or self-pity or anger. We try to grab for control or we give up and try to drown our problems in distractions. So often these sins captivate us. We so easily get lost in them again. How hopeless our condition was before Jesus came into our hearts! How lost and helpless we are with him!
Jesus’ mission was to seek and to save what was lost. His mission was to seek and to save you. How did he do that? He did it exactly as God’s Word had said he would. He told the disciples, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:46,47 NIV).
That’s what Jesus did for you. He left is heavenly throne and came to seek you. He came into our sin-darkened world to seek and to save us lost sinners. That’s what he did by his suffering and rising from the dead. As the God-man, he saved you by suffering for your sins in your place and in exchange giving you his sinless life to cover all our doubts. He suffered and died so that his blood pays your ransom. For his death counts as your punishment. His resurrections gives you live. For his resurrection declares you forgiven.
This Good News, the Gospel of Jesus, is the message of forgiveness of sins that is preached in Jesus’ name to all nations. This Good News came into you heart through Baptism and the Word. This Good News changed us so that we see that Jesus alone is our Savior. Only he has come to seek and save what was lost, to seek and to save you and me.
As watch your Savior ascend, believe that he has fulfilled that mission. He is not leaving us, but he is showing us that the work he has born to do is complete. He has paid for all your sins. He has won full and free forgiveness for you. He is your ascended King. Worship him in the joy of forgiveness. Celebrate his reign in your heart.
2) He reigns eternally over everything
Worship your ascended King in joy and celebration, because his reign has no end. Unlike a president who runs the country for four years or eight if he is re-elected, Jesus reigns eternally over everything.
He reigns over all things with his almighty power. God’s Word says, “While [Jesus] was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven” (Luke 24:51 NIV). As the Son of God, Jesus has always reigned over all things with his almighty power. But his ascension shows that he now reigns over all, not only as true God but also as true man. He reigns over all, just as the heavens are over all.
He reigns over you and me as well, not only with his almighty power but also through his gracious word. He gave his disciples the promised Holy Spirit, so that the words they wrote and really God’s exact words. His Word, living in our hearts, makes us part of his eternal kingdom. This world and all its kingdoms will pass away. But Jesus kingdom will not pass away. On the Last Day, Jesus will visibly return in glory. And his kingdom that now lives unseen within our hearts will become visible forever and ever. And we who suffer here for his name’s sake will reign in heaven with him in glory.
Jesus’ ascension reminds us that he is right now with us as our king who reigns eternally over everything. Just as he lifted his hands in blessing for his disciples so also he is blessing you and me. The disciples “worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God’ (Luke 24:52, 53 NIV). So also Jesus’ ascension leads us to worship him with great joy and to praise God for the great things he has done for us in Christ Jesus.
And yet so often things may seem the opposite. So often our lives do not seem to be victorious. So often we suffer and all the more so when we boldly confess our Lord. We succumb to the same sicknesses, the same tragedies, the same problems that confront others.
When you see these happening to you and feel the temptation to be angry or fearful, to give up or to seize control, to worry or to get even, remember your ascended King. Even though the world around you denies him, he truly reigns over all. Even when you feel helpless and wonder why such things happen to you, your King is taking care of you. You and I may not see his hand beneath us lifting us up, protecting us. By faith we know it is there, for as your ascended King he rules over all things for your good.
He has already given his life for you. He has ascended in victory. He gives you this victory. No matter what other do, or what disaster befall us ,or how little we have, we can be content. We can be happy. We can be joyful. Your ascended King has won the victory for you. You will reign with him forever in heaven so what does it matter what others do to us for the few moments of our earthly life? Worship your ascended King as you live lives that overflow with his forgiveness and his joy.
Depending on your politics, a presidential inauguration can be a joyful time. Yet that joy soon comes to an end and many plans and promises remain unfulfilled. The joy we have in our ascended Lord never ends. He has fulfilled his mission – his mission to save lost sinners like you and me. He rules eternally over everything so that we can live in joy and happiness now and forever.