Today is Ascension Sunday. This is the day on the church calendar when we remember the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. The eternal Son joined Himself to human flesh in order to participate in our humanity and redeem us. Having died for His people on the cross and risen again, Christ ascended bodily to the very throne room of heaven. But when Christ left the earth He was not abandoning us; He was completing what He had come to do. For even now the God-Man, Christ Jesus, is continually standing before the Father interceding for us, His beloved.
In our worship we enter the heavenly tabernacle to commune with God. What is in that heavenly tabernacle? A Savior present before the Father for us, and we are there with Him, having been united to Him and raised to heaven with Him by faith. We are seated with Christ in heaven. The early church father Leo the Great said, “For on this day not only have we been confirmed in our possession of paradise, but we have entered heaven in the person of Christ; through His ineffable grace we have regained far more than we had lost through the devil’s hatred.”
So the ascension of Jesus means that Jesus has gone away from us so that He could be for us in heaven. But the ascension of Jesus means also, somewhat paradoxically, that He is also present with us. How? By His Spirit. And that is why Pentecost comes immediately after the Ascension. One theologian wrote that it is not that the Holy Spirit makes up for the absence of Jesus, but the Holy Spirit completes the presence of Jesus.
So just as surely as you are in the heavenly tabernacle with Christ now, so the ascended Christ is here with us on earth today, in the person of the Holy Spirit. It is a mystical reality. It is wondrous and authentic.
The ascension of Jesus is a great gift for the church – for you and for me. So let us worship the glorious Christ who died for us and rose again and ascended to the Father, and let us do so by the power of the Holy Spirit, who is here with us and in us.
Come, let us look for Him in the sanctuary, to see His power and His glory. Let our souls be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, and let our mouths praise Him with joyful lips.