The Truth of the Ascension

Editor of Parish Pump: The Rev Paul Hardingham considers a much-neglected event…

‘While He was blessing them, Jesus left them and was taken up into heaven.’ (Luke 24:51). The Ascension is a hugely neglected festival, which deserves to have a bigger place in our church life. How do we understand it?

The Ascension tells us that Jesus is in control: ‘Jesus has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand’ (1 Peter 3:22). Jesus occupies the top spot in the universe; the control of our world is in the safe, scarred hands of Jesus. We can offer Him our worship and allegiance, knowing that His plans are better than those of any Prime Minister or President.

The Ascension tells us that God is committed to His world: ‘And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:6). Jesus did not leave His humanity behind when He ascended, for we are raised with Christ to heaven. Therefore, God is bound to His world and we can trust Him to fulfil His purpose for our lives and world.

The Ascension gives us a job to do: ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:18,19). God’s primary means of working in the world is now through us. He commissions for this task at Ascension and equips us at Pentecost. We are called to make disciples, starting in our workplace, family and community.

‘Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which He looks compassion on this world. Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good. Yours are the hands through which He blesses all the world.’ (Teresa of Avila).