Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. … Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty – he is the King of glory.
Happy Ascension Day!
Isn’t it fascinating that Christmas celebrations are such a dominant event even in our culture? God’s matchless condescension becoming a man is a great reason to celebrate. But what about the matchless ascension of the same man as he returns home to heaven? The final glorious lifting up of Jesus is the culmination of His exaltation from the victory of the cross and resurrection triumph over death and hell. The downward “stooping so low” of Jesus’ humiliation to the magnificence of His elevation is the grand climactic movement of the gospel. Its a movement that enfolds you and me in its amazing dynamic and uplifting momentum. All of Jesus’ life is not just a mighty display of power but it has a transforming salvation purpose. His lifting up is my lifting up. His going home to final glory as the God-man signals and seals my passage home to glory too! This surely calls for some celebration?
The ascension of Jesus back into heaven as our final priest and king means that perfect humanity is now found in the presence of God. A man in the glory! Never before in the history of redemption was a perfect human located on the throne of God. Our nature now glorified is represented before a thrice Holy God. Human nature in the reality of its physicality and bodily form inhabits the splendour, majesty and glory of God and heaven. The Lord Jesus goes home to begin his eternal rule and reign and to commence his gracious work of intercession for us his people. His return to His Father means that now the Holy Spirit may be poured out on the Church. Pentecost can and will come to empower and generously gift the Church for its worldwide mission outreach.
Ascension Day has been called the coronation day of Christ. He returns back to heaven in Spirit as he dies on the cross. His final words were “‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46). Then on Easter morning his spirit and body are united again in the miraculous transformation of resurrection. He lives never more to die. For forty days he ministers to his disciples and prepares them for the reality of his final departure. “Jesus said, ‘Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God”” (John 20:17). Then Luke records the momentous event in Acts 1:9 “…he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.”
Psalm 24 begins with its penetrating opening question – “Who shall ascend…?” It then anticipates and is full of expectation for the grand ascension occasion and calls on the gates and ancient doors to be flung open wide to receive home the King of glory. The King of glory is Almighty God (24:7-10). Jesus gloriously fulfils this ancient hope and promise in his ascension. This means as our representative He now has gone home “…to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3). In the meantime we enjoy all the benefits of our Lord Jesus risen, ascended and reigning King. Enjoy today the safety, security and stability of your salvation. Today delight in His continuing comfort, counsel and all other blessings flowing from the Ascended Christ. Look forward in hope to the return of the King when we too will ascend and our spirits and new bodies will share the glory and splendour of our Saviour.
Meirion R. Thomas, Malpas Road