He Ascended into Heaven
This has ever been one of the essential teachings of the Church and so is recorded in the ancient creeds: “He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.” It is this doctrine that affords us so much comfort as we consider that our Lord is at the right hand of power, a power he works on our behalf to root sin out of our lives and provide us gifts for ministry. From there he intercedes for us as our faithful High Priest (Hebrews 7:25). And the fact that he is there reminds us of his certain return that he may finish what he started. We now live in that period between the times, the time of his first and second advents, this time of grace and salvation, which shall one day close when he returns on the clouds of heaven.
And so the disciples ask him just before he ascends, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Some assert that they were still thinking in terms of the Kingdom of God as a political kingdom on earth. I disagree. As I said yesterday, what did Jesus teach them during those forty days but of that very Kingdom, the preaching of the gospel, and the foundation of his Church! Surely by now they would have forfeited such notions as a political entity thumbing its nose at Rome as beneath the dignity of their Risen King! I believe they were asking the same question which we ask: “Lord, when shall you return as King of kings and Lord of lords and usher in that kingdom of peace which the prophets proclaimed (e.g., Isaiah 2:1-5) and our hearts so desire?” And the Lord did not dismiss their question but only told them the that Father has reserved such matters unto His own wisdom (Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32). Instead, they were to satisfy themselves with the knowledge and expectation that soon they would be possessed of such power which had heretofore been unknown, not as in the Old Testament when the saints were possessed of such power for periods of time to perform specific tasks, but instead an indwelling power for personal holiness and public ministry, power whereby gifts would be dispensed to believers for witness to the nations, power that would establish Christ’s Church. That power belongs to the Holy Spirit who was and is the promise of the Father, given to His Christ, who sends him to be within us.
And so our Lord had to go; he had to leave to make room for the coming of the Holy Spirit, through whom we would do “greater works than these” (John 14:12). And we know that from there he shall return, for, “This Jesus, who was taken up from [us] into heaven, will come in the same way….”