Completely prodigal in His love for us, the Son spent all he had. He faced complete humiliation and the dereliction of being cut off even from the sense of his Father’s presence on the cross. Then, in the ascension, He returned home, ragged from his sojourn with us. The Father embraced Him with joyful relief and acceptance, enfolding the Son’s humanity into the robes of his presence.
—Gerritt Dawson, Jesus Ascended: The Meaning of Christ’s Continuing Incarnation, 62
This is that festival which confirms the grace of all the festivals together, without which the profitableness of every festival would have perished. For unless the Savior had ascended into heaven, His nativity would have come to nothing . . . and His passion would have borne no fruit for us, and His most holy Resurrection would have been useless.
TODAY IS ASCENSION DAY!
He has raised our human nature in the clouds to God’s right hand;
There we sit in heavenly places, there with Him in glory stand:
Jesus reigns, adored by angels; man with God is on the throne;
Mighty Lord, in Thine ascension we by faith behold our own.
—Hymn: “See the Conqueror Mounts in Triumph” (Christopher Wordsworth; can be sung to the tune Austrian Hymn)
In their worship the followers of Jesus experience two contrasting features of Christian faith and worship. First we see the Christ and the faith represented within our culture, as one of us, belonging to our time and culture. From within our life situation we see the gospel meeting our deepest desires and longings as well as challenging some of our assumptions. On the other hand, we see the Christ as calling us beyond our culture into a new universal truth that joins us to all humanity of whatever generation and culture.
Through worship we become very aware of this twofold implication of the doctrine of the Ascension. Christ takes our human experience within the Godhead, and we are taken by the ascended Christ into a new solidarity of being human.
—Peter Atkin, Ascension Now, 90
Alongside the knowledge that our worship lifts us to heaven is our understanding from the Ascension doctrine that God fully understands our human situation. This will save our worship from being otherworldly and a false route to escape facing our problems. Because of the Ascension we can be certain that God in Christ understands the human situation. [Hebrews 4:15-16]
—Peter Atkins, Ascension Now, 86
Ascension doesn’t mean absence; it means sovereignty, exercised through the Spirit.
—N. T. Wright
The ascension of Christ is filled with theological significance. Christ’s ascension means that in heaven there is one who, knowing firsthand the experience of suffering and temptation, prays for us and perfects our prayers. His ascension is a witness and guarantee of our own bodily resurrection, as well as an invitation for us to set our hearts and minds “on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1-2) to rule over all things in heaven and throughout the universe (Eph. 1:10, 20-23).