The importance of Ascension today

There was amazement and wonder at the ascension of Jesus two thousand years ago, but even today a look back at this event can elicit wonder and surprise. Here is a sermon by the Chief Apostle to ponder about.

The Chief Apostle gathered with the members of the congregation of Saargemünd in France for the Ascension Day service on 13 May 2021. He based his sermon on 1 Peter 3: 22: “Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”

Following the Bible reading from the first chapter of Acts, the Chief Apostle admitted that he would have liked to know more about the details of the ascension of Jesus, but all it says is that Jesus was taken up in a cloud. This cloud, the Chief Apostle said, was not only a physical phenomenon, it also symbolised the presence and glory of God. Scripture reports about God’s encounters with Moses and Solomon, as well as Jesus’ encounter with Moses and Elijah on the mount of transfiguration in a very similar way.

The Chief Apostle went on to emphasise three essential aspects of the ascension, which are important for believers today.

Jesus Christ ascends into heaven

  • With the ascension Jesus confirmed His divinity: “His ascension is a confirmation: Jesus is indeed the Son of God. He came from the Father and returned to the Father.”
  • His ascension marked the end of His mission on earth: “He had come to earth to accomplish a work. After completing it, He returned to the glory of the Father. His ascension thus marked the end of the mission of the Son of God on earth.”
  • The ascension of Jesus signalled the beginning of a new era: “The Son of God had become man and did not only go back as the Son of God, but went back as the risen man, as the new man.” For believers today that means: “A human being can enter into fellowship with God provided he has the resurrection body.”

Jesus Christ is seated on the right hand of God

  • Jesus Christ has all authority in heaven and on earth: “He is seated on the right hand of God, in other words He has the same authority, the same power as God. No one can stop Him from doing what He wants to do.”
  • He confirmed that His teaching is equivalent with the word of God: “Since Jesus is now with God, it means that His teaching is truly God’s word.”
  • He did not force anyone: “Jesus urged one or the other to follow Him. And they either followed Him or did not. He never forced anyone, but always respected the freedom of others.”
  • He serves people: “Jesus said, ‘I am going to my Father’s house to prepare a place for you so that you can be where I am.”
  • He shares in our joys and our difficulties: “Jesus Christ is interested in each one of us,” the Chief Apostle said. “He is close to us because we came to know Him through His life on earth. He is with God now and is not far from us and our concerns.”

Jesus Christ will return

  • He will return to those who believe in Him. “He ascended into heaven in the circle of those who believed in Him, His Apostles. For us this means that He will return to those who believe in Him and to those who follow the Apostles’ teaching.”
  • He will take to Himself those who have fulfilled His commission: “To be ready when the Lord returns, we must keep our faith in Jesus Christ and must conduct our lives in accordance with the gospel, as it is proclaimed by the apostolate.”
  • Jesus Christ will reign with the believers in the thousand-year kingdom of peace for the salvation of all mankind. And then the Chief Apostle said: “And this must be firmly anchored in here [pointing to his head] and in here [pointing to his heart]. If I wish my enemy dead, I am not ready to carry out this mission.”

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Oliver Rütten
France, Chief Apostle, Divine service