And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen by angels, preached among the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up in glory.”1 Timothy 3:16
“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”Acts 1:9
God’s creation was brought into existence according to a wise plan and divine will. The ascension of Christ is also part of the divine plan. Although we know the facts, this event remains a mystery to us.
God’s plan of redemption was realized when Jesus was born. His human body developed normally, serving Him during His years here on earth. Then, when Jesus fulfilled His mission, His time in this body ended as well when He was taken up to heaven.
Jesus’ ascension shows that heaven is open
The Fall of Man caused a great chasm between humanity and God. Centuries later, Abram found grace before God and became the patriarch of the people of Israel. God spoke to this nation and did many miracles. When the people were freed from Egypt, God gave them the laws at Sinai and the sanctuary with the tabernacle. But although God drew near to the people of Israel, the great separation between them and God remained. Only the high priest was allowed to enter the presence of God with a sacrifice once a year.
Then Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came to earth. He revealed the will of God to mankind and opened the door to salvation. Through the sacrifice of His body, He reconciled God and man. Thus, everyone who believes in Him has access to salvation, to the Father Heart of God. Jesus Christ, as High Priest, reunited humanity with heaven. Through His deed and entry into heaven, He also provided access to the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8).
The Ascension confirms that Jesus completed His earthly mission
Only after Jesus had fulfilled His mission could He ascend again into the Father’s glory. The Ascension is evidence and testifies that Jesus fulfilled the mandate.
With His work, Jesus laid the foundation of the Kingdom of God here on earth. He established the Church. But before He left the earth, He promised the Comforter to the disciples (John 7:37-39). God redeemed this promise at Pentecost. The Holy Spirit was supremely necessary, guaranteeing the church’s growth, strength, and protection.
Ascension and the cloud
When Jesus left the disciples and was lifted up to heaven, suddenly a cloud came between Jesus and them. This tells us something. The cloud is an indication of the presence of God.
In the Old Testament, God repeatedly showed His nearness to people through the image of a cloud. When Moses dedicated the tabernacle with the sanctuary, a cloud covered the tabernacle of meeting (Exodus 40:34). Similarly, we read in 1 Kings 8:10-11 that a cloud filled the sanctuary at the dedication of the temple. We also encounter the cloud in the New Testament as an indication of God’s presence. Jesus was with the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration. Suddenly, a cloud overshadowed this small group. God spoke to the disciples from the cloud. God’s glory was in the cloud (Mark 9:7).
Then, when Jesus left the earth, the glory of God met Him in the image of a cloud and hid Him from the eyes of the disciples.
The cloud is associated with a glorious promise for us. In 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18, we read that at Christ’s return, the saints will be caught up in the clouds borne up by the glory of God. Here we will immediately enter into the presence of God. This encounter means a great deal to us humans; it will be part of the greatest event in human history.
What does the Ascension mean for us?
It means we have an Advocate in heaven (1 John 2:1). Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father and is an advocate for us. But what does it mean to us to have an advocate, an intercessor, in heaven? Jesus, at the right hand of the Majesty, can say to the Father, “I know their situation; I was there Myself. I know man, his situation, and his motives.” He has experienced the ups and downs of life on earth Himself. He has experienced temptations. Now there is someone in heaven who understands us and intercedes for us.
We can come before God because Jesus has brought us salvation and redemption. Our righteousness and holiness is totally dependent on the Son of God. It is He Himself who cares for us and protects us.
The Ascension promises the Church on earth the return of the Bridegroom. Just as He ascended into heaven, He will come again one day (Acts 1:11). And then that day will come when every person will meet Jesus face to face.
It was a great celebration when the Son of God returned to the Father’s glory. Likewise, a great celebration awaits in heaven when Jesus finally takes His Bride home to be eternally united with her in heaven’s glory.