Going up or ascending could be fun for instance flying in an airplane for those who do not have an issue with height. “To ascend” means to rise or move to a higher point, degree or rank. To make a transition from a lower level to a higher level. There is usually a great feeling of elation and promotion that goes with moving up or going up as opposed to moving down or going down. While moving up or going up is associated with success, great accomplishment, and other positive things, moving down or going down is associated with failure, degradation, and hopelessness.
Today is a very important and remarkable day for us as we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ into heaven. The Ascension is an inevitable bus stop on the highway of our redemption. Without the Ascension, the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ would not have been complete. To be more practical let us take an active look into some parts of the apostles’ creed:
…. I believe in Jesus Christ the only Son of God who was:
- Conceived by the Holy Ghost ·
- Born of the Virgin Mary ·
- Suffered under Pontius Pilate ·
- Was Crucified ·
- He Descended into hell ·
- The third day he rose again from the dead. ·
- He ascended into heaven ·
- And seated on the right hand of God the Father Almighty ·
- From thence he shall come ·
- To judge the living and the dead.
Imagine if the process ended with: …the third day he rose again from the dead!” That would mean that he will die again like Lazarus whom he raised but later died sometime after. Without the Ascension, there will be not sitting at the right hand of the father neither would there be a second coming nor the judging of the living and the dead.
The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ marks an end of an era as well as the inauguration of a new beginning. It ended our Lord’s First Coming and inaugurated the anticipation of His Second Coming. The Ascension could be seen as the bridge connecting heaven with earth; the bridge connecting divinity with humanity. The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ further marks the continuation of the reality of the incarnation (God with us). That means that the word that took flesh ascended into heaven with that same flesh. No doubt, the ascended Lord is both human and divine. The hypostatic union was not lost in the event of the Ascension. It is further based on the truth of the Ascension that the Assumption could happen.
The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ remains a great necessity based on the following predications:
- Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended to receive the glory due to Him as the victor over sin and death (Philippians 2:8-11).
- He ascended to be our Mediator and advocate with the Father (Hebrews 9:24).
- He ascended to fulfil the promise of sending the Holy Spirit (John 16:7).
- He ascended to prepare a place for us as He also promised (John 14:2).
Just like his Resurrection, the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ should be productive of great and wonderful values in our lives. Writing to the Colossians(3:1-2), the apostle Paul advised:
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.
The above instruction of the apostle Paul opens up three-fold ascendable platforms for us:
- Spiritual Ascension: With the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are spiritually reinvigorated to rise from our region of spiritual aridity to the region of spiritual superabundance. With the Lord we are expected to rise ungodliness to godliness. From “sinhood” to sainthood. We need to rise from the stranglehold of the evil one to the stronghold of God. The Ascension should bring about our spiritual emancipation. With St. Paul we could say that whoever is in Christ have become a new (ascended) creation old (descended) things have passed away and the new (ascended) have come. (2nd Cor. 5:17).
- Material Ascension: Our Lord Jesus did not only feed the people with the word of God, he also gave them something to eat (Matt. 14: 16-21). The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ should also avail us material sustenance. This is where one of the clauses in the prayer he taught us comes to apt fulfilment “…give us this day our daily bread” (Matt.6:11). With the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ we are being led to our material freedom. Poverty is converted to riches, lack is converted to abundance. The works of our hands are blessed. (Deut. 28:12; Psalm 90:17).
- Mind Ascension. A sound mind dwells in a sound body. Our minds need to rise also. Many people are held under mental slavery and are laid back with acute depression, worry, and fear. With the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ we are told not to worry nor be afraid. Our Lord in one of his last instructions said to his disciples “do not let our hearts be troubled..” (John 14:1,27). It is based on this that the words of the priest during the Eucharistic celebration finds more relevance: “lift up your heart” and we respond “we have lifted it up to the Lord” (see Lamentations 3:41). This is mind ascension!
As we celebrate the Ascension our Lord Jesus Christ today, let us make provision also for our own ascension into ascendable and better lives for the soul, body and mind. Have an awesome celebration.