THE ASCENSION OF JESUS, BY KIANG P LEE

“He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Act.1:3-11).

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Ascension of Jesus, painting by Uhde, (Wiki Commons)

Greetings Friends!

Mankind’s resurrection and ascension to immortality was inaugurated by Jesus Christ in His own resurrection followed by His ascension to heaven 40 days later. The purpose of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension was to return to His eternal Trinitarian existence He had with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the disciples, “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth” (John 14:15). Jesus’ ascension made possible a momentous act never to be repeated – He took our humanity, glorified it in Himself through His bodily resurrection, and forever joined mankind to the life of the Triune Godhead. The Trinity has changed its complexion forever. (Gen.1:26-27) Jesus now sits at the right hand of the Father as mankind’s eternal High Priest. Though our human resurrection and ascension is something we look forward to in a future event, the most important thing Jesus did for man is to bring the “Triune Life”** which believers can live now.

Thereby, it is logical to conclude that by joining our humanity with the Triune God, the Father and the Spirit is forever joined to humanity in a real sense through Jesus, the Immanuel, who is both God who glorified our humanity in Himself. It was for this very reason of uniting our humanity with God that Jesus made this ultimatum, “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7). This is undoubtedly the weightiest aspect of Jesus’ mission and ascension – to join humanity to the Triune God and give passage for the Spirit to enter mankind on the day of Pentecost and carry on the work of the Father which Jesus started and commissioned His disciples to continue on earth. So, His departure was a necessary part of mankind’s initiation into the life of the Triune Godhead and the Spirit being made one with mankind.

Most of all, the Scripture is very clear about the most important aspect of the Holy Spirit’s work – it is by the Spirit’s power that humans will be sanctified and eventually resurrected to immortality. (2 Thess.2:13; Rom.8:11,13) Paul affirms this, saying, “If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you” (Rom.8:11). Human resurrection to immortality is made possible only through the Spirit’s power and presence. Paul articulates this process further by saying, “Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Cor.3:16; also John 7:37-39; 1 John 4:13; 1 Cor.6:19, NLT). While Paul is drawing attention to the issue of church unity in Corinth, he is indirectly confessing the truth about Jesus’ ascension in joining the Spirit to human life. A temple is a place of worship where God and man meet. The Bible says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ” (Rom.8:9). And if anyone does not belong to Christ then he cannot be conformed to Jesus’ image and likeness in His resurrection and ascension. (Rom.8:29).

Jesus promised, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you… On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.” (John 14:8, 20). Here again we see Jesus affirming man’s eternal unity with the Father and the Spirit which He makes possible. Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal.2:20). What we see is Jesus’ life being incarnated into the life of the believer on earth to be followed by a resurrection into immortality. But how is this process of salvation done in reality? Through the Holy Spirit! Jesus tells us the role of the Spirit, “He will glorify Me, for He will take from that which is Mine and will disclose it to you” (John 16:14, Berean LB). So we see the purpose of the Spirit is to live and walk in the life of the believer as a temple and make Jesus’ life become a reality, thus, fulfilling the promise. Jesus said, “He (Spirit) will not speak on His own, He will guide you into all truth. He will glorify Me because it is from Me that He will receive what He will make known to you” (John 16:13,14). Therefore, the ascension brings to reality the promise of Jesus He will personally come and live in the believer through the Holy Spirit’s power. When we think of the life of Christians living the incarnated life of Jesus today it is contingent upon His ascension to make it a reality. It is quite simple, the ascension was necessary for the Holy Spirit to come.

The account of the ascension is recorded as follows in the Book of Acts, “After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God.  On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Then they gathered around Him and asked Him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After He said this, He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as He was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “Why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Act.1:3-11).

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Depiction of the Two Angels of Ascension. “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen Him go into heaven” (Pic: Wiki Commons)

What is the work of Jesus that the Spirit will articulate in the world? Jesus Himself answers, “And when He comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in Me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see Me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged” (John 16:8-11).

Here, Jesus explains sin very simply – it’s a person’s refusal to believe in Him as Savior. “Concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me.” So sin has to do with faith – faith in Jesus! It’s very simple, very plain, sin is more than an individual act of sin, it is our refusal to believe in the Messiah who atones and cleanses us from sin. Sin is the condition of man’s self-determination controlled by the devil, and righteousness is the condition of the Spirit inspired by Christ. In our fallen state of existence we exist in the sin condition, and the only way out is to step out from it into the sinless and righteous condition of Jesus through the Spirit’s presence. Hence, Jesus speaks of being “born again” into a new life in the Spirit. (John 3:1-8)

Why does the passage above says, “concerning righteousness (sinlessness) because I go to the Father?” Because Jesus has ascended to the Father’s right hand and remain as man’s eternal High Priest mediating for man. The Bible says of Jesus, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 5:1, 5-7). Paul says, “There is one Mediator between God and man, the Word of God who is Himself a man, Jesus Christ” (1 Tim 2:5). A High Priest stands between sinful man and our holy God mediating on man’s behalf for all his shortcomings. Paul says, “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died–more than that, who was raised to life–is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (as mankind’s High Priest) (Rom.8:36, my emphasis).

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Dove, Symbol of Holy Spirit and God’s Love and Power  Descending upon Man on Pentecost. “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions” (Joel 2:28). (Pic: Wiki Commons)

When Jesus said, “Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged” it means Christ has defeated the instigator of sin, Satan. Judgment came about when Jesus was victorious over the devil in the temptations in the Judean wilderness, and when He died upon Calvary on His cross as the final answer to sin.

So, that is the 3-fold message the Spirit brings to the world – it is about Jesus saving us from sin once for all time; Jesus becoming our righteousness through His High Priestly role in heaven; and Jesus bringing judgment by defeating the enemy the promoter of sin in mankind through the temptations and His death on the cross! This is why the ascension is of utter importance to the whole world.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to write to me in the space provided below, or email me on bulamanriver@gmail.com.

Blessing:

Until we meet again in my next post, may the blessings of the God who ceaselessly expresses Himself in His dependable Triune Love, be with you always. May the Spirit enliven your spirit and make all things concerning you possible as you live the “Triune Life” as a  Bulamanriver.*  Be strong in the Lord’s joy.

Kiang,  

Bulamanriver” is the metaphor describing the union of man with the Love of the Triune God flowing in humans, making possible the “Triune Life” – the source of the miraculous life in man. To read the many facets of life of the Bulamanriver, go to my website www.bulamanriver.com where you can order a copy of my Book.

** “Triune Life” means a believer is living his/her life in the Triune Being of God. God, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, lives and walks in the Bulamanriver (you and me), and the believer lives in God’s presence. Man’s union with the Triune God is made possible through Jesus, Himself God who took our humanity into the Triune Godhead. Through the Spirit who lives in man as His temple makes the “Triune Life” possible. (1 Cor.3:16)

All scriptures are taken from the NIV Version 2011, unless stated otherwise.

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