by Morris Chalfant
Isn't it strange that we celebrate the coming of Christ to this earth but not His return to the heaven from which He came? Sad but true, that we make a major production of our Lord's coming-Christmas-but almost wholly ignore His departure-Ascension Day.
The greatest miracle in the life of Christ was His ascension into heaven. The Ascension was the pledge that the first Spacetraveler who touched down on earth for a few brief years would return. The awe-bound disciples, staring upward at their homebound Lord, were even more awed when glittering visitors spoke the promise: "Why stand there looking up into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken from you to heaven, will come in the same way you have seen him go" (Acts 1:11, NEB).
Only after the Ascension -always celebrated on Thursday, forty days after Resurrection Day (thus June 1 this year)-was the human race so fully privileged to approach the Almighty. Only after the Ascension would the Holy Spirit be "poured out on all flesh." Only after the Ascension could Christ come again "with power and great glory."
Consider the awesome work of the Most High in man's redemption: God's Son invaded human history and walked in scuffed sandals. He lived the perfect life and taught perfect doctrine. He was suspended on a bandit's cross to die. He was put in the tomb, but it could not hold him.
The grave's Conqueror "showed himself alive after his passion," then stepped off into infinity. He went back to where He came from! He said "I go my way to him who sent me" (John 16:5).
Jesus went home in a glorified body. Jesus' body was buried; yet He arose with a resurrected body which later ascended into heaven. This is the first example of the kind of body we will have in our heavenly home. Enoch was taken-we do not know how-to be with God without suffering death. But Jesus didn't need any guide or helper. He knew where His Father was-Jesus had lived there from before the foundation of the world. He simply returned to His home in glory.
Ephesians 1:20-23 tells us what the Ascension means: "(God) raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all."
The Ascension is a declaration that Jesus Christ reigns everywhere. Since He is "at the right hand of God" and since God is omnipresent, the sovereignty of Christ is universal. It extends over the whole of mankind and the whole range of man's experience. It is not only over the church, but over the secular world, as well. Even where He is least recognized, His is the final power, and, in the long run, every realm of life must acknowledge His lordship.
The day will come when we will all stand at the judgment seat of Christ. There He will speak the last word. We will hear, "Come, ye blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt. 25:23). Or we will hear, "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire" (vs. 41). There will be no appeal from that final word of authority.
We will see Christ as He comes through the cloven skies with the glory of the Father and all the holy angels. With undeniable authority we will be summoned to stand before the throne of His glory. There every knee shall bow and every tongue confess "that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Would to God that more people in this modern day, whether they be the rulers or the ruled, had the grace to bow today in humble faith before Him who is the sovereign Lord of all!