I think that one practical implication of the ascension for our corporate worship is that the general tone of the Lord’s Supper should be joyful and celebratory. When we receive the Lord’s Supper, we are not re-creating the Last Supper on the night before Jesus died. Rather, we meet in real time in the present with the risen, ascended, and glorified Christ! When we focus on the cross in our communion songs or meditations or prayers, it ought to be a joyful proclamation of the victory that he won in his death. On this side of the resurrection and ascension, we can now see the cross as the place where Jesus reigned, where he destroyed the old creation order and in doing so, released the world from its bondage to Sin, Death, and the Devil. And of course our communion songs and prayers and meditations should not only be about the cross but also about the resurrection, ascension, and the future fullness of the kingdom yet to come. And that means it is an occasion of supreme joy at the victory of God, of supreme hope in the coming consummation of the kingdom, and of supreme love for the presence of the ascended Christ.
—Michael Farley, Worship Reformation Network post
The Ascension doctrine helps us to keep a balance between seeing God in Christ as “one of us” and Christ as “from the heart of God.” Too great an emphasis on the Incarnation can distort this balance, so that worship is centered exclusively on the human aspects of worship—our concerns, our needs, our agenda, and our material world. Worship, unless corrected by the dimension of heaven, can become earthbound. The Ascension doctrine reminds us that there is another dimension to worship. We join Christ—rather than Christ coming down to join us – in the eternal nature of heaven, and there our worship is caught up with that of the angels and archangels and the apostles of every generation.
—Peter Atkins, Ascension Now: Implications of Christ’s Ascension for Today’s Church, 83-4
TODAY IS ASCENSION DAY!
How does Christ’s ascension into heaven benefit us?
First, He is our Advocate in heaven before His Father. [Rom 8:34; 1 John 2:1]
Second, we have our flesh in heaven as a sure pledge that He, our Head, will also take us, His members, up to Himself. [John 14:2; 17:24; Ephes 2:4-6] [As John Duncan put it, “The dust of the earth is on the throne of the Majesty on High.”]
Third, He sends us His Spirit as a counter-pledge, [John 14:16; Acts 2:33; 2 Cor 1:21, 22; 5:5] by whose power we seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God, and not the things that are on earth. [Col 3:1-4]”
—Heidelberg Catechism, Question 49
The Ascension of Christ doesn’t mean absence; it means sovereignty, exercised through the Spirit.
—N. T. Wright
The key point of Ascension is not that the Son of God has begun to rule. The Son of God has, with the Father and Spirit, ruled all things since the beginning of things. The new thing that happened at the Ascension of Jesus is that the Incarnate Son begins to rule. There is a human being, a man, on the throne at the right hand of the Father, far above all authority; by the ascension, Jesus has fulfilled the original Adamic commission to rule the earth.
And we are in Him. Paul says that just as Jesus is seated in heavenly places, so also in Him we are seated in heavenly places.
—Peter Leithart, “Eucharistic Meditation on Luke 22:29,30“
This Sunday the event will be celebrated in many churches, but today is the day! (40 days after Easter) Too often we rush past Easter and neglect this crucial, climactic, culminating event in the earthly ministry of Jesus (and transition to His continuing ministry).
The ascension of Jesus is His going back to the Father to prepare a place for us. It is His being enthroned as King of kings at the Father’s right hand. The ascension is Jesus’ exaltation above every name that is named. The ascension is the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as our eternal High Priest and mediator. The ascension is Jesus’ mandatory leaving so He can send a Comforter. The ascension is Jesus’ real absence so that he can be with us to the end of the age. It is paradoxical, it is mind-blowing, it is huge.
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.
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.