Ascension of ChristQUESTION: What does the Bible say about the ascension of Christ?ANSWER:
What does the Bible say about the ascension of Christ? The Bible describes the ascension of Christ in a scene told both by Luke and by Mark. The scene portrays meaning to the believer and is supported by other Scripture, as well. It is really a very poignant picture when you think upon its meanings.
The ascension communicates Christ's glorification. Jesus' work here was done. Mark says, "After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God" (Mark 16:19). The scene communicates that He was leaving earth in His bodily form and that He was going to His former place of glory, having won victory over death (John 17:5).
Jesus' ascension brought to an end the time of His ministry as God in man. And it began the time of His ministry as God in man, the church. God would minister through His Word and His ministers in the church. The church is Christ's body in the earth (Ephesians 5:30; 4:15-16). The ascension forms the point of continuity between "all that He began to do and to teach (Acts 1:1), and what the apostles and the church continued to do and to teach after His departure.
Another essential truth concerning Christ's ascension is that He ascended on High with His own blood to make atonement for the sins of men (Hebrews 2:17). As High Priest forever, He went before the eternal mercy seat - as the Old Testament High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year to make atonement for the sins of Israel - Jesus made atonement once and for all in the tabernacle not man-made (Hebrews 9:11-12). Having obtained eternal redemption for all who would believe in Him, He sat down in His glory. He took His place as supreme authority, whose throne we may now approach "with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need" (Hebrews 4:16). A new covenant has been ratified between God and man, sealed by the blood of a righteous man, God's own Lamb.
His ascension meant that He would send the Holy Spirit to dwell in believers, taking the place of His bodily presence, and continuing what He had done while here (John 14:16-17; 16:5-7). "All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you" (John 14:25-26). And, "He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you" (John 16:14). Jesus lives in believers by God's Spirit and continues His work in them and through them.
His disappearance into the clouds bore also the promise of Christ's return. Luke reports in Acts1:11: "'Men of Galilee,' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.'"
Paul explains in I Thessalonians 4:16-17 that "For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
This prophesied event, commonly known as the rapture
, lets us know that our bodies, also, will be changed to be "like His glorious body" (Philippians 3:21).
Meanwhile, we look for His appearing conforming our lives to His example, so that, "we shall be like Him" at His coming. "Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure" (1 John 3:3). He intercedes for believers in His present ministry as High Priest and is able to save us completely (Hebrews 7:25). He is the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him (Hebrews 5:9). The ascension assures of His return because He said: "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am" (John 14:3).