Monday, December 31, 2018

The Crowning of Jesus

"While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven" (Luke 24:51).

Perhaps the most glorious event in the life of Christ was His ascension into heaven. We read that Jesus took the disciples out to the Mount of Olives and blessed them, As He blessed them. He ascended into the air.

We might expect the disciples to be sad at Jesus’ departure, but we read that they “worshiped Him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy” (v. 52). Were they happy to see Him go? Yes, because they now knew why He had to leave. It meant He was going to heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. It meant that shortly He, as His first act of rule, would send the Holy Spirit to empower them to take the Good News everywhere. They knew these things because Jesus had “opened their minds so they could understand the Scripture” (v. 45).

Jesus said, “No man ascends into heaven except the one who came from heaven, the Son of Man” (John 3:13). The word ascend simply means “go up,” and in that sense people ascended to Jerusalem when they went up to the holy city for the feasts and other occasions. And, to be sure, other people had ascended into heaven, such as Enoch and Elijah in the Old Testament. But when Jesus says, “No one ascends.” in a very technical way, He is speaking of ascension to the right hand of God as ruler of the world. And so the church today exists to obey the mandates of One who is seated as the Lord of glory.

Though the ascension was the glorious climax of Jesus’ first coming, there is a more glorious event yet to come. Luke tells us at the beginning of the second part of his two-volume work, that “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” (Acts 1:11). On that day, His kingship will become fully visible to all men, even to those who denied it.

Ephesians 4:7–13 teaches that when Jesus ascended He gave gifts to His people, indicating primarily the Holy Spirit. By that Spirit we are drawn up to Him and empowered to live in a manner that honors and “lifts Him up” before the watching world. Consider how you in the next year can more consistently lift Him up with your life.