In Salvador Dali’s picture of Jesus’ ascension all you can see are his feet! (https://www.dalipaintings.com/the-ascension-of-christ.jsp). As we celebrate the event this month, it prompts the question, ‘where did Jesus go?’ Peter says Jesus ‘has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand’ (1 Peter 3:22). However, the New Testament tells us three things about what Jesus is doing at the Father’s side.
At Pentecost, Peter said that Jesus is,
‘Exalted to the right hand of God. He has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear … “The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand.” (Acts 2:33-4).
Peter is affirming Jesus’ position of authority and power at the heart of the universe. By pouring out the gift of the Holy Spirit upon us, Jesus gives us a foretaste of the life of heaven, that is, eternal life, forgiveness, healing, release and God’s provision for our lives.
When Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was being stoned to death by the Jewish authorities, he points out,
‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’ (Acts 7:56).
Our experience of Heaven is only ever partial, as we live with the reality of suffering and setbacks. However, Jesus is still on the throne! We are called to trust him daily.
The Bible also tells us that, ‘Christ Jesus who died … is interceding for us.’ (Romans 8:34, cf Hebrews 7:25). Even when we don’t know how to pray, we have the assurance that Jesus is already praying for us! He knows our needs even better than we do ourselves, so when we feel condemned or defeated in our Christian lives, we have somebody on our side!
The Ascension reminds us that the risen Jesus lives in the immediate presence of God, and both transcends and embraces our present experience. This truth lies at the heart of the up language used to describe the event.
‘Heaven relates to earth tangentially so that the One who is in heaven can be present simultaneously anywhere and everywhere on earth: the Ascension therefore means that Jesus is available, accessible, without people having to travel to a particular spot on the earth to find Him.’ (Tom Wright).
The feature image for this post is “Jesus ascending to heaven”, WikiCommons (P.D.)