Why Did Jesus Float Into The Sky? Part Two

by Brian Colmery
We often think of Jesus’ ascension as a strange epilogue to his life story. In our last post, we saw that the ascension is actually the culmination of his life and ministry. Because of the ascension, at this moment Jesus speaks, intercedes, and rules from heaven as our perfect Prophet, Priest, and King.

Still, there is a natural tendency to ask, “So what?” We might not be so direct about it, but it’s entirely appropriate to wonder how Jesus’ ministry in heaven intersects with our life here on earth.

Why Does It Matter?

In one sense, a slow reading over the passages in our last post makes this question feel crass. The ascension means that the Alpha and the Omega stands installed as sovereign in heaven over all of creation, at this very moment while I push buttons on a keyboard and you move your eyes over pixels on a screen. It matters because he is the only thing that really matters. Everything else matters only because his overflowing life and love and reality spill over into the glory of creation and human beings made in his image.

So the ascension calls our eyes up. But it also meets us in our need. Prayer is one example. Often we come to prayer thinking it is our job to start the conversation, and hope that God will respond. (This, of course, is assuming we have dragged ourselves out of bed or found a moment of peace during the day in which to do it.) We try to generate something by the way we pray, or the way we feel when we pray, or the way we think about how we feel when we pray, etc. Whatever the particulars, we are the ones who pull the cord on the lawnmower and try to get the engine of our prayer time to turn over.

But the ascension tells us that, before you ever came to prayer—before, in fact, it even occurred to you to pray—the risen Lord was already interceding for you in heaven. Times of prayer are times of entering into what Jesus is already doing for you. You cannot get up earlier than Jesus. You cannot beat him to prayer. He will always be interceding for you well before you open your mouth to speak. And so prayer is speaking to the Lord who is already speaking on our behalf, seeing both the needs we know of and those we don't, already sympathizing with our weaknesses and advocating for us to the Father.

There is more here. Whenever you open the Bible, you read words on a page that God spoke to people a long time ago. But Christ the ascended Prophet continues to speak through those words. The words of Scripture are spoken to you by his Spirit now. Of course it is not as simple as going to meet Jesus at a coffee shop for a chat. We need to listen carefully to the unique ways in which God speaks through inspired but ancient documents. (We have foundation classes at Cornerstone for just that purpose, and I highly encourage you to take them.) But when you open your Bible, you do not just read what the Lord said, you also read what he is saying.

Finally: wherever you go, Jesus is already there, ruling and reigning as King. There is no situation so mundane or so intimidating that Jesus was not already there before you arrived, extending his rule across the powers and principalities in that place. Folding laundry is a sacred activity not because we want to give some superficial encouragement to people doing menial labor or because we have sentimentalized working with our hands in a technological age. Folding laundry is sacred because it is done in the very presence of the installed King of kings by one of his own subjects, living out their calling under his rule. Going into a performance review or having a difficult conversation or dealing with loneliness all happen in the presence of the living and ruling King, who loves you and guides all things for your good. He was there before, he is there during, and he will be there after. There is nowhere we can go where his rule does not extend.

If Christ Be In Heaven…

It's tempting to think of all this as the spiritual version of dressing up a pig. It can feel sentimental and saccharine to say folding laundry, performance reviews, and dry devotional times are super spiritual moments. Why not just call things what they really are? We can and should be honest about the brokenness in our world. To say that laundry is sacred is not to say it’s glorious or even enjoyable. And yet, Christ is ascended. If Christ is in heaven, then his speaking, praying, and ruling are underneath everything we do as his people. That is calling things what they really are.

And so the ascension is not something to gloss over or be embarrassed about. It's not an epilogue or afterword to the really important stuff. It shows us that Christ, our Lord, is right where he should be, and right where we need him most.
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