Christ told his disciples that he had to leave in order to send his Spirit, who gave them power to be his witnesses in this world, who has been enriching the church with all the gifts that are necessary for the ministry of the gospel, and who keeps abiding and working in every believer, comforting, leading, sanctifying, and helping each of us to raise our eyes to Christ and all his benefits—even when we feel most afflicted by the changing tides of the world around us.
Almost any article today could have the word “Coronavirus” in the title. This small organism has changed most of our lives and continues to affect us in many ways. While some of our questions simply require a lot of wisdom, our most fundamental perplexities still find their answers in Scriptures, and there is a sense in which Christ’s ascension to heaven is particularly pertinent.
The Meaning of Christ’s Ascension
Christ’s Resurrection gets a lot of attention. This year, most Christians felt terribly deprived when they couldn’t celebrate it together with other believers. But the Ascension—which most liturgies place at 40 days after Easter—comes and goes with very little notice. For many Christians, “Christ has ascended!” doesn’t have the same force as “Christ is risen!”
This is, in part, because most churches have eliminated liturgical dates. But there is also a prevailing ignorance of what the ascension means. It’s often seen as a natural appendix to the Resurrection. He rose, and ascended to heaven. We take it for granted. Given that he could not stay here forever, where else would he go?
But historically, the church has given much weight to Christ’s ascension, because of the significant implications it has for the world, and especially for Christians.
The Heidelberg Catechism lists three main benefits Christians receive from Christ’s ascension:
“First, that He is our Advocate in the presence of His Father in Heaven. Secondly, that we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge, that He as the Head, will also take us, His members, up to Himself. Thirdly, that He sends us His Spirit as an earnest, by whose power we seek those things which are above, where Christ sits at the right hand of God, and not things on earth.”