Acts 1:8-11. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
One author said “Jesus is now at large in the universe.” He’s no longer limited to an earthly existence. He has ascended into heaven and, as Paul says, he has become “a life giving spirit.” The physical presence of Jesus will be replaced with the spiritual presence of Jesus – you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.
For the Christian the ascension is a pretty big deal. Without the ascension we are left alone. Without the ascension we have no power. Without the ascension we are not witnesses. Without the ascension the man Jesus is not on his throne and there is no hope of glory for the rest of us humans. Let’s look at these in reverse order.
Jesus on his throne – by the ascension Jesus is seated in heaven. He has taken his rightful place on the throne of the universe. A throne that is beyond time and space. Jesus is now the enthroned king of heaven and the enthroned king of our hearts. We don’t need to make a pilgrimage to his palace to be in his presence. His throne is in us. And as the MAN Christ Jesus he intercedes for us (1 Timothy 2:5), securing our co-dominion with him over the new heavens and the new earth.
We are witnesses – by the ascension we have our marching orders for life. As we saw in yesterday’s reading, we have been sent out to make disciples. To create student-teacher relationships sharing life together as we learn together how to love God and one another. We are not meant to stand looking into heaven until Christ returns. We are meant to get to work, sharing the good news of Jesus with others. How? By being witnesses. Not just bearing witness. Being a witness. Our entire lives sharing the gospel story.
We have power – by the ascension Jesus is seated in power over all things. As head of the church, he is ruling the universe for our good and his glory. We share his power.
- Power over all enemies – every spiritual force of darkness is conquered. No weapon of blame or condemnation formed against us can ever prosper over his conquering love for us.
- Power over all guilt – Jesus’ resurrection and ascension prove that his sacrifice for sins was fully accepted by God. We now walk boldly into his throne room seeking grace in time of need.
- Power over all hopelessness – Jesus’ physical ascension means none of our physical pains and losses are ever wasted. The man Jesus does not dismiss our human frailty. He transforms it.
- Power over fear – Jesus’ ascension ensures that we are loved by the Father. The Trinity’s presence in us by the Spirit means we are forever looked upon with favor and fondness.
- Power over weakness – Christ’s ascension is only made possible by his crucifixion. His weakness transformed into his power. We too will experience his power in embracing the weakness of his self-sacrificing love and grace.
We are never alone – by the ascension we have the personal presence of Christ with us and in us at all times by the Spirit. This is greater far than the physical presence of Jesus. More powerful and more personal. The deepest connection to the love of God ever imagined or experienced is ours in Christ. If only we would truly believe this.
“To live is Christ” is to live in all the power of the ascended Christ. To receive his Spirit. To receive God’s presence into our very being. And then to share that presence with one another as we stop gazing into heaven and start sharing the greatest story ever told with our Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and even the ends of the earth.
Do you ever feel powerless or alone? When?
You in Christ
In Christ you have been filled with all the power of Christ’s crucifixion. How might Christ’s power look different from the “world’s” definition of power?
Christ in you
What might be a way that you can be a witness in your “Jerusalem” today?
Playlist: Ascension songs.