Thursday, March 28, 2019

Why The Ascension Is Important

"Jesus’ ascension refers to His going to a special place for a special purpose. He goes to the Father, to the Father’s right hand. He rises to the seat of cosmic authority.

Jesus goes to heaven for His coronation, His confirmation as the King of Kings. Jesus also ascended to enter the heavenly Holy of Holies to continue His work as our great High Priest. In heaven Jesus reigns as King and intercedes for us as our High Priest. From His position of ascended authority He poured out His Spirit upon the church. John Calvin remarked,

“Being raised to heaven, he withdrew his bodily presence from our sight, not that he might cease to be with his followers, who are still pilgrims on the earth, but that he might rule both heaven and earth more immediately by his power” (Institutes 2.16.14).

When Jesus ascended to heaven for His coronation as King of Kings, He was seated at the right hand of God. The right hand of God is the seat of authority. From this position Jesus rules, administrates His kingdom, and presides as the judge of heaven and earth.

At the right hand of the Father, Jesus is seated as the Head of His body, the church. Yet in this position, Jesus’ authority and governmental jurisdiction and administration extend beyond the sphere of His church to embrace the whole world. Though church and state may be distinguished within Jesus’ domain, they are never separated or divorced. His authority extends over both. All earthly rulers are accountable to Him and will be judged by Him in His office as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Everyone in heaven and on earth is called of God to reverence Jesus’ majesty, to be ruled by His hand, to do Him proper homage, and to submit to His power. Everyone will ultimately stand before Him as He sits in final judgment.

Jesus has the authority to pour out His Holy Spirit upon the church. But Jesus did not pour out the Spirit until He was first seated at the right hand of God. The Spirit ministers in subordination to the Father and the Son, who together sent Him to apply Christ’s work of salvation to believers.

While seated at the right hand of God, Jesus not only exercises His role as King of Kings, He also fulfills the role of cosmic judge. He is judge over all nations and all people. Although Jesus rules as our judge, He has also been appointed by the Father to be our advocate. He is our defense attorney. At the last judgment our court-appointed defense lawyer will be the presiding judge. A foretaste of Jesus’ intercession on behalf of saints can be seen in the martyrdom of Stephen:

“But he [Stephen], full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’” (Acts 7:55–56)."

R.C. Sproul, Essential Truths of the Christian Faith

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