On God's Word, His Church, and His World
What does the Bible teach us about the Ascension of Jesus?
May 5, 2016
Ask someone about Christmas or Easter, and you'll get a familiar nod. Ask them about the Ascension, and you might risk a blank stare, even from Christians. Yet, the Ascension is an indispensable part of the work of salvation that God the Son has accomplished on behalf of His people (and all of creation, really).
The ascension of Jesus is not simply the moment He was taken bodily and visibly from earth into heaven. It is the climactic sitting down of Christ on His throne at the right hand of God the Father (also called "the session of Christ"), crowned as the Priest-King over all things, having received all authority in heaven and on earth, and applying His finished work to His people through His continual intercession and perfect superintendence of all things for the sake of His glory and His people’s good.
The Bible is replete with teaching about this necessary-yet-often-neglected aspect of our Savior’s work. Here’s a small sampling:
Psalm 2: The Messiah is given the nations of the world as His inheritance.
Psalm 89:19-37: God’s Anointed King will rule, and God’s favor will always be upon Him.
Psalm 110: in the most quoted psalm in the New Testament (see especially Acts 2:34-36; 1 Cor 15:25; Heb 1:13; 10:12-13), Christ must rule until all His enemies are destroyed.
Daniel 7:13-14: The Son of Man receives a kingdom that has no end.
Matthew 22:44; Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42: Christ refutes the Pharisees with Psalm 110, which speaks of God the Father speaking to David's Lord.
Matthew 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 22:69: Jesus prophesies His ascension, further infuriating the already angry Sanhedrin, and convincing them that He was guilty of blasphemy.
Matthew 28:17-20: Jesus’ declaration of supreme authority in the Great Commission.
Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50-51; Acts 1:9: The Gospel writers record Jesus ascent into heaven.
Luke 1:32: The angel Gabriel declares that Jesus is the true Heir of David’s throne whose kingdom will have no end.
Acts 2:33, 36: The reason why the Spirit was poured out is because Christ was exalted to God’s right hand, and has entered into His full anointed lordship over all things.
Acts 5:31: God exalted Jesus to His right hand to give Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. Christ’s ascension and session is necessary for the work of salvation.
Romans 8:34: There is no condemnation for Christians because Christ died, was raised, and was seated at God’s right hand where He is interceding for us.
1 Corinthians 15:22-28: Paul’s sweeping summary of the history of the world: the world will be fully subjected to Christ, and then Christ will hand over His kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rebel power and authority.
Ephesians 1:20-21: God raised Jesus from the dead, raised Him into heaven, and seated Jesus at His right hand. over all dominions and powers in heaven and on earth.
Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 3:1: We have been raised with Christ and seated with him in heaven now.
Ephesians 4:8-14: In his ascension, Christ gave gifts to the Church.
Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 12:2: Christ’s humiliation and shame preceded His exaltation, when God highly exalted Christ and gave Him a name above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth. His humiliation and exaltation is the pattern for our lives.
Hebrews 1:3: Christ has sat down on the right of the Majesty on High (a Jewish circumlocution) after making purification for our sins. Christ is the Great Priest-King in Hebrews.
Hebrews 2:5-9: A quote of Psalm 8 stating that Christ is presently crowned with glory, all things having been subjected to Him, although we do not presently see this in all its fullness.
Hebrews 4:14-16; 8:1-2: The reason why we can address Christ Jesus in prayer is because as our Great High Priest-King, He is seated on the throne of grace and can sympathize with us.
1 Peter 3:22: After Christ’s ascension, all powers are subjected to His reign.
Revelation 3:21: the conquering King promises a place on His throne to those who conquer.