Ascension Day Reflection

If you didn’t know, 5 June 2011 is Ascension Day. What does the ascension mean? I’ve heard an atheist speaker refer to it as the “Launching of the Lord”.  The ascension in Luke-Actts functions to end the resurrection appearances of Jesus and to also indicate his future parousia. However, the ascension also signifies much more than that. Let me give seven things to note about the ascension.

1. Jesus ascends to heaven so that he can send the Holy Spirit to his followers.

2. After Jesus’ ascension there is an expectation for the worship of Jesus and witness to Jesus by the disciples.

3. Jesus’ ascension means that he is exalted to God’s right hand and is invested with divine authority.

4. The ascension demonstrates that God has placed a human being as vice-regent of the universe.

5. Believers embryonically share in the reign of Christ by virtue of their union with Christ.

6. Jesus’ work of intercession continues in his heavenly session.

7. Jesus will return in the same manner that he left.

Many churches follow a liturgical calendar or use a lectionary that includes events like celebrating Ascension Day. I imagine that for some folks this might seem stale and constrictive (esp. when the pastor wants to preach on things like “Twelve Steps to Being a Better Pet Owner” which is not found in the lectionary). The good thing about a lectionary, however, is that you get a regular diet of preaching and readings from the “whole counsel of God” rather than whatever the preacher feels like doing on a given day. If nothing else, I would love to see churches return to celebrating Ascension Day next to Christmas, Easter, Trinity Sunday, and Reformation Sunday. As to why, consider the words of the great textual critic Bruce Metzger: “Ascension Day proclaims that there is no sphere, however secular, in which Christ has no rights – and no sphere in which his followers are absolved from obedience to him. Instead of it being a fairy tale from the pre-space age, Christ’s ascension is the guarantee that he has triumphed over the principalities and powers, so that at his name ‘every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father’ (Phil. 2:10-11).”

  • http://www.thefaithlog.com Jeff Doles

    I don’t think we fully understand Pentecost apart from Ascension. N. T. Wright said, “The Ascension and Pentecost join heaven and earth together.” Very true.

    I’ve written a number of reflections on Ascension over the past couple of years, at http://www.thefaithlog.com/search/label/Ascension

  • http://www.thefaithlog.com Jeff Doles

    I don’t think we fully understand Pentecost apart from Ascension. N. T. Wright said, “The Ascension and Pentecost join heaven and earth together.” Very true.

    I’ve written a number of reflections on Ascension over the past couple of years, at http://www.thefaithlog.com/search/label/Ascension

  • Raymond

    June 2 is Ascension Day, not June 5. It is, as you know, 40 days after the Resurrection. It may be celebrated by some on June 5 but that is after the fact, not before. We celebrate Ascension Sunday before the event, not after it. Great work that you do, even if you got the date wrong. Blessings,

  • Raymond

    June 2 is Ascension Day, not June 5. It is, as you know, 40 days after the Resurrection. It may be celebrated by some on June 5 but that is after the fact, not before. We celebrate Ascension Sunday before the event, not after it. Great work that you do, even if you got the date wrong. Blessings,

  • .peter malik

    when did he happen to write this?

  • .peter malik

    when did he happen to write this?

  • JB

    Good blog post. I connected the Ascension to Pentecost and the action of baptism in spirit, and that shows my ecclesiological bias.

    But I like your interpretation of the meaning of the Ascension for its own sake.

    http://kingofages.wordpress.com/

  • JB

    Good blog post. I connected the Ascension to Pentecost and the action of baptism in spirit, and that shows my ecclesiological bias.

    But I like your interpretation of the meaning of the Ascension for its own sake.

    http://kingofages.wordpress.com/

  • Nick Nowalk

    Where is the Metzger quote from? An article?

  • Nick Nowalk

    Where is the Metzger quote from? An article?

  • http://johngreenview.wordpress.com/ John Thomson

    ‘Jesus’ work of intercession continues in his heavenly session.’

    Formally, Jesus’ Priesthood did not begin until his ascension. If he were on earth he would not be a priest for no priest belonged to the house of Judah… he is a priest after the order of Melchesidek, in the power of an endless life…

  • http://johngreenview.wordpress.com/ John Thomson

    ‘Jesus’ work of intercession continues in his heavenly session.’

    Formally, Jesus’ Priesthood did not begin until his ascension. If he were on earth he would not be a priest for no priest belonged to the house of Judah… he is a priest after the order of Melchesidek, in the power of an endless life…


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