Tag Archives: Ascension

Ascends as Lord of all creation Acts 1 Trinity Lutheran Church,

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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who know Jesus’ sits at the right hand of all power and all glory said… AMEN !

We use the “Common Lectionary”, when people come up to do the readings, they traditionally read out of the service book, that has the daily readings assuring that we observe the important, formative, enlightening events of the Bible. It usually guides our worship. Sometimes the pastor has a good reason to deviate from Scripture, but usually we want to stick to the lectionary. This keeps the pastor focused. Too often in non-liturgical worship, preaching and teaching is more about the preacher’s hobby-horse versus, trying to teach the entire Bible. The entire Bible is important, we need, at the very least to be familiar with the various parts and be able to describe different parts of the Bible and what is going on in those parts. The entire Bible points to Jesus being active before His incarnation, the events Jesus lived through in the incarnation. When we understand that, we have an even deeper appreciation of the entire Bible. People will often tell me how “boring” the Book of Such and Such is. Yet that Book, all of Scripture describes Jesus, God the Son who has lived eternally, John writes in his Gospel: “ESV John 1:3 All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” As much as the Father was through all eternity, so is the Son and the Holy Spirit. They may not have been revealed until the New Testament, but they very much existed, all eternal God. I’ve had people who claim to be Christian “pastors” say, I don’t preach on the Old Testament, it’s the Gospels and the epistles that really matter. Nothing could be more wrong, and someone who claims to be a pastor, and believes that, is not a qualified Christian pastor. All this is to say that the lectionary keeps us all honest, on track, having a thorough understanding of Jesus, and all of Scripture as possible. While Ascension Day may seem anticlimactic, OK, He rises up into the air and disappears, time to move on… Daniel Marrs writes: “I wonder if our tendency to let Ascension Day slip past uncelebrated has more to do with the simple fact that it feels anticlimactic? The Christmas story tells us that God purposed to be with us, joining himself to human nature and walking among us as a man. And we know how Jesus’ life culminated with the world-shaking significance of the cross and the resurrection. But then he just…leaves. Why? And what does it mean for us?[1]

Jesus is not unique in being bodily taken to heaven, Elijah was lifted up into heaven in front of his student Elisha. ESV 2 Kings 2:11 And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.” It does seem that God’s intention for Elijah that he would be the one who would announce the Messiah’s return. We know he was with Jesus at the Transfiguration. Moses was also, some people believe Moses was also bodily ascended into heaven. Elijah and Moses are thought to be the two witnesses in Revelation 11: 3-12, because they were bodily raised to heaven for these purposes. While Dr Luther stipulated that the Bible did not say anything about the bodily assumption of Mary, he didn’t deny the possibility either. Lutherans have rejected that view, I’m not trying to convince you of it, but just that Mary is included in the list. Isaiah may be also, he was brought into the presence of Yahweh, but the intention was not to keep him there, same for St Paul.

While it might make an interesting discussion, how many angels dancing on the head of a pin, kind of discussion, we know this for sure. Elijah and Enoch may have been raised up to somewhere by God in heaven, and Paul says that he was raised to what he called the 3rd heaven, Jesus was raised to the right hand of God. In His Ascension into heaven, Jesus became the entirety of the universe. Elijah, Enoch, Paul, Mary(?) if God did raise them bodily into some level or part of heaven, Jesus was raised to the right hand of God. Being at the right hand of any ruler was always understood as the person being at the right hand had the power and authority of the ruler. Peter Mikhalev offers this pointed quote: “St. John Chrysostom: “Elijah ascended as if into Heaven, because he was a slave, but Christ ascended into Heaven itself, because He was the Lord.”[4][2] This is generally to be understood as the man who carries out the will of the ruler. Enoch, Elijah, Mary (?) may have bodily ascended to heaven, but to be sure no where near the right hand where as we profess in the Apostle’s Creed: “seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” By virtue of this position of power Jesus is He whose rule is in complete glory: John Calvin writes: “Christ was invested with lordship over heaven and earth, and solemnly entered into possession of the government committed to him — and that he not only entered into possession once for all, but continues in it, until he shall come down on Judgment Day” [3](Institutes 2.16.15). Mikhalev quotes St Gregory: “…by His own Divine power the Creator ascended into Heaven, because He was returning to there from whence He descended. He entered there where He had habitation from the ages: for, although He ascended as man, as God He possessed both Heaven and Earth.”[14][4]

R C Sproul writes “God’s right hand is the place of “highest favor with God the Father” (WLC, Q&A 54), and the phrase is used throughout Scripture to indicate His power and sovereignty (Ex. 15:6Isa. 48:13).  This means that He is ruler over all and that the kings of the earth rule only according to His sovereign permission. As such, Christ alone is worthy of our highest allegiance, and it is to Him that we must render obedience, even if it means, at times, defying the rulers of this world. Jesus’ kingdom alone is eternal, and His rule is above all others.”[5]

That Jesus raised Himself to heaven, to the ultimate glory of His ruling over all of Creation eternally, also is another demonstration of His Lordship overall creation. Arator writes: “…let us commend the manner of his rule though the powers that are subject to him: born of a virgin mother, rising again by treading upon death, seeking the scepter of heaven He announces such deeds by these angelic servants. Nor do the elements cease to serve their thunderer. In his honor as he is coming, a star does service as a soldier going before the magi. A cloud waits upon him in obedience as he goes.”[6] As He is about to be lifted up, unbeknownst to the disicples, He gives them the great commission, we quote Matthew 28 more often, but Acts starts this way, reminding us we are His disciples, His witnesses to the end of the earth, everywhere. As He says that He is lifted up, the disciples stand there [wide eyed] The angel sitting there had to be amused what you guys doing? He’s told you what to do and He will return in the same way. In the meantime it’s time to turn to for Jesus.” They certainly did in the power of the Holy Spirit whose intentional introduction will be made at Pentecost that we will observe next Sunday.

The peace of God that surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amin and Shalom. Christ is risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah

[1] https://www.biblegateway.com/blog/2019/05/its-ascension-day-heres-what-it-means-for-you/?utm_source=bg&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=weeklybrief&spMailingID=59440308&spUserID=MjgzMzMxOTk1NTAS1&spJobID=1644181925&spReportId=MTY0NDE4MTkyNQS2

[2] Did Enoch and Elijah ascend into heaven? Deacon Peter Mikhalev

[3] R C Sproul quoting John Calvin https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/seated-at-gods-right-hand/

[4] Op Cit

[5] Seated at God’s Right Hand   RC Sproul

[6] Arator quoted in Ancient Commentary on Scripture NT 4 p 10

His Plan, His Lordship

His Plan, His Lordship
First St Johns, May 29, 2014 Ascension Day
We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
The Ascension…, it might seem more like a scene from an old black and white movie, where the gal is saying good bye to her guy at the train station, the guy being sent off to war, both of them know that this could well be the last time they see each other. As far as the disciples are concerned this day starts off as another discipling session with Jesus, they aren’t expecting anything extraordinary to happen, they are just wrapped up in their own little world of expectations.
The conversation might have gone something like: “Hey Jesus, been a pretty eventful last forty days. You were crucified, we didn’t see that coming. You were resurrected, we sure didn’t see that coming. So anyway, on to, you know, the important stuff. Because we have our own agenda, and obviously you have some pretty impressive power. So when are going to use that power for something really important, when are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
I would like to think that they were all holied up and were looking forward to the Kingdom that Jesus had promised, right? That’s not what they asked though, was it? When will you restore the kingdom to Israel? Who is Israel? Well us of course, the Jewish people. All they have been through and then they try to reel all these events; the Last Supper, the Crucifixion, the Atonement, the Resurrection, all these things that have just happened in the last 40 plus days, the disciples try to reel these events back into their own provincial, petty politics. “Come on Jesus, sure we’ve seen all these great things, but let’s see something really great. Now that you’ve risen from the dead, let’s kick these Romans out, restore David’s kingdom, we will all reign with you and we will have power and wealth and freedom, it will be so great.” Time after time, Jesus tries to get these guys to focus on what is important. The conquering Romans have been a topic over and over and probably far more then we imagine. These guys can’t get past the issues and ideas that are right in front of them and realize that what is important is not political power. It’s just not! Sure it’s important to the extent that we need government in order to serve and protect, absolutely. But they have, right in front of them, been talking to Him, learning from Him, seeing His power for three years, constantly, day in and day out. Then the most climactic events in human history happen, the Cross and the Resurrection, and what are they still camped on forty days later? Our reading specifically says: “…[Jesus] appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” He’s talking about God’s Kingdom, they’re talking about the Kingdom of Israel, their plan, their agenda, “Come on Jesus when will the kingdom be restored?” It’s all about us, it’s what we want, we want to rule in this world, we want to do it now, let’s go. Government comes and goes, and for the most part, regardless of who is there, things hardly change and if they do change, it’s usually not for the better. God has implemented the “left hand Kingdom”, the world/government, it is important. But in terms of Jesus? Does it really matter who your state rep is last week, last year, last decade? You probably don’t even remember all of them. Yet there the disciples are; “give us power Jesus!”
What is Jesus’ reply? Guys! Focus! Is that what I’ve been talking about for the last three years? Is that what I’ve been talking about for the last forty days?” This isn’t your call, this is not about politics and power, this is about eternity, the real/eternal Kingdom, the only one that matters. Remember back in Mark 13:32? “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” We are all guilty of it, we try to impose our agenda, our goals, our desires on Jesus. Why wouldn’t they? As far as they are concerned this is unlimited power and Jesus is there to exercise that power for their plans, not for His. Much like most people think today.
I already told you. It’s up to you to faithfully follow. At this point Jesus tells them that they will be baptized with the Holy Spirit. It seems like there’s a lot of waiting with Jesus. They waited and sort of floundered for three days while He was in the tomb, they are with Him forty days they are waiting but they’re never told for what. Certainly not seeing Jesus’ Body being lifted up into the air right before them. But just before this happens He tells them; “this is the plan guys, and this happens on my schedule, according to the Father’s agenda.” Matthew tells them the same thing in Matthew 28: 18-20. All authority has been given to me and it will be better than anything you can think of now. “…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” You’re talking about being bureaucrats, I’m talking about the power of the Holy Spirit. So often that is how God works, isn’t it? Our sights are pretty low and usually we are just so hooked on what the world tells us to want, Jesus tells us, you’re going to have the Holy Spirit. He is going to lead you to places far from where you are used to being.” Matthew says disciples, Luke says witnesses, but the expected results are the same saying: “ you will be my witnesses, my ma,rturej not just in the old neighborhood, but to places you’ve never been, to the end of the earth. The Greek word ma,rturej means witness, someone who is telling you what happens, but in English you also hear …“martyr”? And so it is, that we are called, to put aside our wants, put aside our agenda, witness to what it is that Jesus wants and yes in some form, die to those desires, be a witness to the world of Jesus, His ideas, His promises, His agenda. We can concern ourselves with our trivial ideas of what is important, or we can stand in awe of Him who is lifted up before us, on the Cross to pay for our sins or by angels taking Him to heaven, to glory, to the ultimate power which He will then bestow on us by making us a temple of the Holy Spirit, by showing us the world, not just our tiny little slice of it, by trusting Him the almighty God for what we do and don’t need to know and then going into that world in His Name, power and glory to be His ma,rturej in His power, but also, in some form, probably in His suffering too. But always to His glory, His power, the Lord of all creation. But unlike the tearful goodbye at the train station, the angels impart the promise, the hope, the assurance. You might feel like lost sheep again, in the meantime you will have the Holy Spirit in you 24/7, you won’t be alone. Jesus will return, in glory, this time to be in your presence forever and you will know all the glory and splendor of the new Jerusalem, your perfect resurrection into the perfect world the Father had always intended through His Son Jesus.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin.