3.4.12 The ascension of Jesus Christ

Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended from among the circle of His Apostles into heaven, to God, His Father. His last command to them was "not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father," as they were to be "baptised with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1: 4-5).

Even as Jesus blessed the Apostles, He was taken up into heaven, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. As they stood there, still watching Him, two men in white apparel stood with them and said: "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1: 11). In contrast to the resurrection, for which there were no eyewitnesses, the Apostles directly experienced the ascension of Christ. They recognised that the Risen One had been exalted and had returned to the Father. The human nature of the Lord was thereby dissolved permanently into divine glory. Thus the words were fulfilled: "I came forth from the Father and have come into the world. Again, I leave the world and go to the Father" (John 16: 28).

In Mark 16: 19 we read: "So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God." Thus He did not enter the holy places made with hands, like the high priest of the old covenant, "but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Hebrews 9: 24). At the right hand of God He makes intercession for His elect (Romans 8: 33-34).

The image that Christ is seated at the right hand of God demonstrates that He shares in the fullness of power and in the glory of God, the Father. He desires to share this glory with His own in the future: "Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me" (John 17: 24). This will happen when Christ takes His own unto Himself from among the dead and the living. Then they will be with Him always (1 Thessalonians 4: 15-17).

SUMMARY

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is an act of the triune God. It occurred without eyewitnesses, however, the Risen One was seen by many witnesses. His resurrection is not wishful thinking, nor is it the expression of mythological thought. It did indeed occur. (3.4.11)

Through the resurrection of Jesus, believers have a justified hope in eternal life: thereby the opportunity has been created to undo death and the resulting separation between God and mankind, which occurred as a consequence of Adam's fall into sin. (3.4.11.1)

Belief in the resurrection of Christ, the firstfruits, establishes the foundation for belief in the resurrection of the dead in Christ as well as the transformation of the living at His return. (3.4.11.1)

The Risen Lord showed Himself to the disciples. Encounters with the Risen One are repeatedly attested in the New Testament. This testimony of the resurrection of Christ was brought to the entire world by the Apostles. (3.4.11.2)

After the resurrection, Jesus' glorified body was lifted up out of the finiteness and mortality of the flesh. He is no longer bound to space or time. (3.4.11.3)

Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended to God, His Father, in heaven, out of the circle of His Apostles. The human nature of the Lord thus permanently entered into divine glory. (3.4.12)

In contrast to the event of the resurrection, for which there were no eyewitnesses, the Apostles directly witnessed the ascension of Christ. On this occasion they were given the promise of Christ's return. (3.4.12)

See also