Jesus’s Ascension into Heaven
Open Your Bible
Matthew 28:16-20, Acts 1:1-11, Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 7:26-27, Hebrews 10:11-14
I often listen to film scores when I write, and a never-skip on my curated soundtrack playlist is the theme from the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. When I listen to that soundtrack, you might as well grab me a parrot and an eye-patch, because I suddenly think I am as capable of taking on the high seas as the ever-witty Captain Jack Sparrow.
As Bible readers, we get to go on a treasure hunt in our own way. We trace storylines like the dots on a map, hunting for the hope of God’s great restoration. As we do this, we find a million little clues leading us to the true treasure, Jesus Himself.
Today’s Scripture is a great opportunity for us to hunt treasure together.
When Hebrews 7:26 says, “For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens,” we can remember the places in Leviticus and Deuteronomy where God spoke about imperfect priests who temporarily made a way for God’s people to be in relationship with Him. The Old Testament priests continually offered sacrifices for sin, but Hebrews says of Jesus, “He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all time when he offered himself” (v.27).
When Luke writes about Jesus’s ascension in Acts, he says, “After he had said this, he was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Remember the pillar of cloud leading God’s people out of Egypt (Exodus 13:21) and the cloud that settled over the first tabernacle (Exodus 33:9)? That’s the visual I’m reminded of when I read Luke’s account of Jesus’s ascension in Acts: “After he had said this, he was taken up as they were watching, and a cloud took him out of their sight” (v.9). The cloud of God’s presence takes the living, resurrected Jesus up into heaven to sit down “at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12).
I see these connections across the entire narrative of Scripture as evidence of how completely fulfilling Christ’s salvific work is. Jesus lets us see how He’s always been there, eternally holding humanity as the Father writes His redemptive story.
Jesus’s crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension are a set of three climactic events that, combined, are the turning point in God’s redemption story. The ascension completes Jesus’s physical and spiritual triumph over death; I don’t have to wonder if evil and death are fully conquered because I get to read that the risen Jesus ascended into heaven and is, at this very moment, triumphantly reigning with God the Father. The ascension concludes the chapter on God’s people expectantly waiting for their Messiah, opening the part of the story we exist in now: abundant life with Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Because Jesus sits at God’s right hand, we have a secure pathway to the Father. And by the presence of His Spirit in us, we get to invite others to come along:
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”