Why Are We Called Ascension?May 18, 2023
This Thursday is the Feast of the Ascension, and we will be observing this feast Wednesday night at our house church meeting. Whenever a church is named after a Feast or a Person your church pays special observance for that day because that is OUR feast day. How have Christians celebrated the Ascension in the past? There is usually a three-day procession up a mountain and then a celebration on the day of but that’s not really our style at our church. Some other ways Christians celebrate is by eating birds (like chicken, turkey, pheasant, goose, etc) because Jesus “flew” to the Father. Christians also have hiked up mountains and for some they catch crickets… Of all those celebrations I think we are just going to settle for good old fried chicken at house church. But I want to talk about the importance of the Ascension and why we as a church took this event as our name.
So what’s the deal with the Ascension? In the Creeds we see that Jesus died, was buried, rose again, AND ascended to the Father. The fact that he is our ascended Lord is just as important as him being our crucified Lord. It is essential to Christian belief, and we cannot throw it out. Critical scholars and materialists have had trouble with the Ascension. Many academics get embarrassed by this scene. It seems so ridiculous and almost cartoony. It seems antiquated and mythic. So many tried to spiritualize this event or turn it into a metaphor. However, this is not how Scripture describes it. Luke is the author of the book of Acts, he was a physician and he spoke to eyewitnesses in order to write his Gospel. Nothing in his Gospel or Acts is to be seen as a metaphor. As orthodox Christians you must accept the fact that the Jesus you worship floated into the sky and disappeared behind a cloud. That really happened. So now that we established that did happen we should ask why Jesus did this.
Jesus was going away and was leaving the Church to work in his absence. The Church would be empowered by the Holy Spirit who would only come after Jesus went back to the Father. Jesus did not want there to be any confusion as to where he went so he physically floated into the air (just like Elijah did) and disappeared into the heavens. Now, is heaven a physical place in the sky? I don’t know. And anyone who tries to give you some complicated explanation is saying more than the Bible has said about it. All I know is that it must have some form of physical space because Jesus is still embodied. And what is he currently doing? He is interceding for us before the Father as our Great High Priest. That is why he needed to return to the Heavenly realm. Furthermore, to say that Jesus came from the Father is to only take the word of the Virgin Mary but to see him fly away is to know for certain that he is a heavenly being. This event is so important. It means that Jesus is no longer just working amongst us one by one but is interceding for the entire Church and feeding us all with his power by the Holy Spirit. The angel in Acts 1 looks at the Apostles who don’t move a muscle after Jesus leaves and tells them there is no use waiting around, they have a job to do and they can’t just camp out until he comes back. He would return the same way he left. The book of Daniel tells us that at the end of days the Son of Man will come on the clouds with glory. Isn’t it interesting that Jesus disappeared into a cloud?
So that’s why Jesus had to ascend. But why did we adopt this event as our church’s identity? We are a highly missional church focused on fulfilling the Great Commission. And at the event of the Ascension a number of important things happened. Jesus told his Apostles to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. We are also to pray for the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised the empowering of the Holy Spirit. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus told his Apostles to go unto the ends of the earth preaching the Gospel. We are the product of their ministry, and we carry on their work here in McKinney. And Jesus promised to come again soon. This is both comforting and terrifying. It is comforting because we know this age of sin and death will soon come to an end. Jesus will return to reign on this earth forever and set all things right. The dead will rise and all things will be healed. But it also terrifying because when Jesus returns if you are not right with God you will spend an eternity in torment in the Lake of Fire. This is the justice of God and while it is not pleasant it is good. And if this reality bothers us we should be working diligently to reach others for Jesus so they can have a chance to repent and be saved.
That is why the Ascension is important, that is why it is our name, and so let us celebrate! You can be part of the Ascension story by filling out the form below to learn more about our ministry.
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