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One of the tendencies Christians have when considering the ascension is we minimize its significance by thinking of it as a miracle, or another great feat of Jesus. However, when we consider the importance of the ascension of Jesus, we find that it is a significant event in itself.
The confession, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.” is common in the Eucharistic liturgy. The apostolic preaching in Acts, models for us this confession. He has died, risen and “This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven. Acts 1:11” In the interim, between his ascension to the right hand of the Father and his return, the Spirit is at work. The Spirit is at work through the preaching of the Word and the administration of the Sacraments.
The ascension has theological significance in the Epistles. Jesus is doing his mediatorial work on behalf of his people. “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf,” (Hebrews 6:19–20) In his resurrection he is the first fruits of the harvest and going away implies a return. That one day he will return in judgment and salvation to fulfill the “Day of the Lord.” The ascension of Jesus is also the catalyst for gifts to fall on the church.
Psa. 68:18 You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious, that the LORD God may dwell there.
The ascension is also significant Jesus has entered the divine Rest. All of creation waits from this, Jesus, however, can enter. Moreover, Ps 8, 110 and Daniel 7 find their fulfillment in his ascension as Jesus is the Melchizedekian priest-king who sits in the presence of God. According to L.D. Hurst, the ascension seems to be the focal point of the book of Hebrews, Jesus has ascended and entered into the presence of God on behalf of his people. (People and Place, Horton, p.4)
Jesus is resurrected but doesn’t resume a regular earthly physical work of preaching the Gospel. He ascends to heaven, an event that marks out a new turn in redemptive history. The resurrected Jesus is the presence of the New Creation in this world. The ascended Christ is the mark of a turning point, the age to come has begun. In this “already present but not yet fulfilled” tension, is the space the church occupies. Christ is present, but he is absent. He has risen, but he has ascended. The problem of the apparent absence of Jesus finds its solution in the presence of the Spirit who binds us to Jesus even though he is by the Father and we are here proclaiming the Gospel of the risen and ascended Jesus who will come again to gather his people to himself.
Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. (Acts 3:19–21)
This last week former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced to 30 months in prison for living the high life with the campaign funds he had been given. I read this story and it intrigued me. How did a person enter a position to serve the community of citizens only to live a life of being served by them? Didn’t he know? The judge who read the sentencing for Jackson and his wife (1 year sentence) stated “evidence points to only one conclusion, and that is that you knew better.” Jackson had a career few will ever have. He had an opportunity of a lifetime with potential and it was built on the trust of the people. Jackson began in an office of service, but he would eventually be overtaken by greed.
The Jacksons’ greed was manifested in over 3,100 illegal transactions. They included purchases such as a $43,350 gold-plated Rolex watch, TVs and elk heads (??). Mrs. Jackson used campaign funds for more than $171,000 in personal expenses. Items ranging from Disney vacations to fur coats, salon and day spas to sub-zero refrigerators. (more…)
Sometimes the problem with being missional is the church focusses on their neighbor and forgets about Jesus. This idea of being “missional” is popular with the new churches that are coming out, especially those affiliated with the Acts 29 Network. This Christmas weekend take note of the announcement of one of the local “Kaleo” (Greek for “to call”) churches in San Diego here. (more…)
The Anglican Church is always an interesting church to dialog with. Now they will have a new archbishop come March 2013 when Rowan Williams steps down. The short on the new archbishop is below. (more…)
Gal 1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— Gal 1:7 not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. Gal 1:8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. Gal 1:9 As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. (more…)