The question exists for us – “So what does this mean?” Well first of all the Feast of the Ascension is based on the Word of God. It is based on an actual historical event. It is the fulfillment of Jesus’ own prophetic words. It is the fulfillment of his exaltation - the redemption of his humility – that this man who had so horribly died on the cross for our sins now sits at the right hand of God.
But what do we understand by the Ascension?
- Intercessor - St. Paul tells us that Jesus ascended into heaven and is busy… Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34) There he sits as our intermediary between God and man. Every prayer you pray Jesus hears and brings to the Father – constantly advocating on our behalf.
- Judge – St. Matthew tells us, in chapter 25, that Jesus will come separate the sheep from the goats and 2nd Timothy chapter 4 tells us that Jesus will judge the living and the dead. So, there he waits enthroned at the right hand of the Father waiting to be our judge. This same King Jesus who intercedes on our behalf also prepares to be our Judge.
The Feast of the Ascension, which is on a par with Christmas, Easter and Pentecost, is all about Jesus AND our present and future in Him! The question for us then is how do we live in the in-between time? We have to ask ourselves the question, "Are we redeeming the time until Jesus returns? Are we fulfilling the ministries he has given to the church?" We have been placed where we are for a purpose.
In the account from the Book of Acts, the two angels asked the disciples, "Why do you stand here looking into the sky?" It was the Earth, not the sky, which they should be occupied with - to be witnesses not stargazers! Our calling is not upwards in nostalgia, but outwards in compassion to a lost world that needs Jesus.
I pray you all a very blessed celebration of the Ascension of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
Next week’s Bishop’s Note we will conclude our examination of the new 2019 BCP Service of Holy Eucharist – Standard Text.