Dear believers in Christ. Your risen Lord has ascended. He has not only died and risen again, but He has also ascended for you. This is for your comfort and assurance. He rules and directs all things in your best interest.
Yet, oftentimes Ascension is overlooked. The world really cashes in on the “big” holidays, Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving. Christmas with all the decorating and shopping, and presents, and parties, and eggnog. Easter with all the chocolate, and the Easter bunny, Cadbury eggs, and Easter egg hunting. Thanksgiving with all the food and Turkey, and getting ready for Christmas. Well, what about Ascension? The world seems to have no use for it – no earthly treasures to hold on to. No Ascension Day parties, no Ascension day presents, no Ascension Day eggnog, no Ascension Day Santa Clause, or bunny, or other mascot.
Yet, your Lord and Savior has not only risen, He has also ascended into heaven for you - for the strengthening of your faith. But how could that be? He went through all the trouble of suffering on the cross, and then He just leaves the disciples? Where’s the comfort in that? Yet, He promised, “I tell you the truth; It is expedient [necessary] for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you.”
We may have assumed the disciples had it best when Jesus was right by their side, gracing them with His visible presence, yet, that’s not really what the Scriptures say. Scripture says, “we walk by faith, not by sight.”“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” As much as we might like to see His visible presence here on earth – yet, that’s not how faith comes. “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Someone once said “Blessed is the womb that bear Thee” Jesus, but He said, “Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the Word of God, and keep it.”
And yet, it’s not the Word only, but also God’s Spirit. Jesus says, “if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” Because I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, or come to Him, but the Holy Ghost has called me by the Gospel. Those two work hand in hand. There is never one without the other: The Word and the Spirit.
That’s what ascension is all about. The work of redemption is complete. We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son. Having finished the work He came to do, Jesus returned to heaven in order to send us His Spirit and Word.
Children of God, that’s how Jesus continues to reign, in you, for you, by His Word and Spirit. You have what matters most. You have what keeps and sustains you. Both God’s Word, and His Spirit, having been baptized in the name of Christ, and having continued in your Baptism, by the Word. His promise is to keep you in that true saving faith by His Word and Spirit.
Haven’t we ever noticed that everything seems to be about control? Who’s in control, who’s the boss? What happened in Russia and the Ukraine, was all about control, with Russia wanting to control the little guy. The fight in the Middle East, that continues and will probably always continue, is all about control of the land, in the city of Jerusalem. Two nations that can’t get along because they both want that control.
How the Lord has blessed us, here in the USA. By Grace, we’re the most powerful nation on earth, in military might. No other nation even seems to try to gain control over us by outright force (with the exception of the terrorists).
Yet, morality around the entire globe, including America, declines. More and more, what used to be considered wrong, and immoral, becomes accepted. More and more, it seems that Satan, ungodliness, greed, lust, pride, is gaining the upper hand, gaining control. By God’s grace, many gave their lives to protect the freedoms we have here, yet more and more, many abuse those freedoms by ungodly living.
But let us not lose hope. More than anyone, or anything else, more than any government or military, even more than Satan and all his demons, the one who has ascended to God’s right hand of power, is in control. We confess it here often. Jesus ascended and sits at the right hand of God. Again, on the surface, and certainly to the world, it doesn’t seem like the ascension is all that important. Yet, “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named” Jesus rules all things. And He who rules all things, cares. He who rules all things, gave His life for you and me.
We get to thinking that we are in control, or, the government is in control, or, whoever gained the upper hand is in control. That can cause us a lot of worry, anxiousness, uneasiness, when we see things going in the wrong direction. Yet, Christ is “Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named.” What better person to be at the helm, than the one who took away all our sins?
The one who rules all things is not some distant higher being, who watches us from a distance, and cares little about us. The only-begotten Son of God became one of us to bear our griefs, and carry our sorrows. The one who rules all things is not a god who waits for us to do wrong so he can punish us. The Son of God took upon Himself the punishment that we deserved. The one who rules all things isn’t a tyrant who uses his subjects for his own gain. The Son of God allowed Himself to be used and abused, and falsely accused, for our gain.
Christ did not ascend into heaven so that we must now fend for ourselves here on earth. The one who knows exactly how it feels to face pain, hardship, loss of life, and the temptation to simply give up, is in control. The one who rose from it all, and has provided eternal life and salvation for us, is in control. He promises to never leave, nor forsake us. He promises to make all things work together for our good. The one who took all our sins away, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God, rules all things in our best interest.
Jesus did ascend, but Jesus is not absent. He promises, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. He said that as He sent His disciples into the world, with His Word, with His Spirit. That’s how He remains with us, and will continue to be with us, by His Word, by His Spirit. May He continue to strengthen you and keep you in the saving faith, by His means of Grace. In Jesus’ name. Amen.