“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. This is why it says: ‘When he ASCENDED on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men [to you].’ Ephesians 4:7-8
Today is Ascension Day, 40 days after Easter. You probably did not know this when you awoke this morning, or you forgot what today is. Now that you have been reminded, share it. The Ascension of Jesus is not celebrated very much in the church today, like Christmas or Easter. Consequently, there is not much thought devoted to Jesus’ ascension in Christians’ lives or its relevance for all believers. What does the ascension say to you about how you live your life?
Materialist skeptics repeatedly say that if Jesus had ascended into the clouds off the surface of the earth, defying gravity, he had nowhere to go but into orbit. Russian astronaut Titov’s ridicule that he did not see God or heaven while in orbit is no surprise to the believer, as if Titov thought such an inane statement would be. Jesus clearly said, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you. (Luke 17:20-21) Heaven is not a location in the visible universe, but a different dimension of reality. (Hence, “a great crowd of witnesses for you to ponder) For the materialist skeptics there is a boatload of evidence that the world and life is much, much more than material substance. Their denial of this evident truth is breathtaking.
Jesus ascended into the sky, and the clouds hid him from his disciples eyes, to say with a visual metaphor you will not see me again until I return in like manner (see Revelation 1:7). Jesus was fulfilling what he had surely promised, “It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I go I will send him to you. (John 16:7) The good for us is that Jesus, via the Holy Spirit, can personally lay his hand on us each one wherever you may be, in the hospital, in prison, on the battlefield, in your homes, on the street; which having a body, wedded to our flesh for eternity, he could not do in his incarnate being. He promised his presence, “I will not leave you nor forsake you. Lo, I am with you always, through the omnipresence of his Holy Spirit.
He also ascended that he might rule over and fill his entire universe, in a celebration of his victory over sin, Satan and death, and is now seated at the right hand of God the Father, in a place not distant, not visible, but AMONG YOU. And this truth of the ascension you cannot miss; in his ascension he has apportioned grace to every believer, containing various and diverse gifts, that you and I might bring his presence and saving grace to every part of the globe, into every situation of suffering and sin, comforting the sick, feeding the hungry, freeing the prisoner, redeeming the lost. This is not just the Holy Spirit’s work, Jesus says it is yours! But always in the strength and power and encouragement of his Holy Spirit who is within you. The ascension’s doctrine teaches you that Jesus in his ascension gives gifts to you to engage this battle with your life; all the time knowing the ultimate result is victory! The question for you is: will you experience the joy of knowing you are a genuine participant in the battle?
Consequently, Ascension Day ought to be celebrated by you as your commissioning day in Jesus’ army; even though it took place in history over 2000 years ago. Just as V-Day (WWII), even though you may not have been born, signifies freedom which you live in and enjoy today, with a far more significant, sure and eternal freedom, Ascension Day put rank on your shoulders commissioning you in the Army of the Lord. This is why you will shout as a fellow victor with enthusiastic joy, and not as a mourning non-participating scorner, when he appears on the clouds…… just as he ascended.
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