“Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God.” (St. Luke 24:50-52)
“He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty...”
Forty days after He rose from the dead, Jesus disappeared into a cloud and resumed His reign in glory at the right hand of the Father. What does this mean? One thing it doesn’t mean is that Jesus is no longer with us. In fact,
you might say that in His ascension, Jesus is more “with us” than He was with His disciples when they saw Him. Jesus promised, “I will be with you always,” and He didn’t go back on His promise by ascending to the throne of majesty.
The ascension of Jesus is the final piece in the salvation puzzle. The One who was crucified and rose from the dead, now reigns in royal session, sitting at the right hand of the Father. Jesus – the King of kings and Lord of lords – takes His throne and reigns.
We forget that sometimes, possibly because the Ascension is a neglected feast day in many places. It’s always on a Thursday, forty days after Easter Sunday. We’re not waiting for Jesus to reign, He reigns now, lording His death
and resurrection over all the whole cosmos, filling all things in every way.
For us, Jesus’ ascension means that now is not the time of seeing but of hearing. We have to put our eyes into our ears and hear. There is nothing to see. The cloud covers Jesus in His glory, just as it did on the Mount of Transfiguration. A sinner may not look on God in His glory and live. Even a gloriously shining Jesus is dangerous. When John saw Him in the Revelation, he fell down as though dead and had to be picked up by Jesus.
Jesus’ hidden presence is a gracious presence, His “for you” presence. Jesus is hidden but very much there for you in the water of Baptism, in the mouth of your pastor, in the bread and wine of His Supper. There the ascended and reigning Lord of all touches you in a way that you can receive Him and all His blessings. King Jesus reigns from His throne, and this dying cosmos couldn’t be in better hands than His.
“Death-destroying, life restoring, Proven equal to our need, Now for us before the Father As our Brother intercede; Flesh that for our world was wounded, Living, for the wounded plead!” (Lutheran Worship #152)
Daily Lectionary: Numbers 11:1-23, 31-35; St. Luke 17:1-19
Higher Things would like to thank the Rev. William Cwirla (Holy Trinity Lutheran Church,Hacienda Heights, CA - email@example.com) for writing this season's Reflections.
Questions or comments regarding the Reflections may be sent to the Rev. Mark Buetow, Reflections Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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