Recently I had the opportunity to preach on the Ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was amazed in my 26 years of pastoral ministry that I had never preached on this topic. I was challenged by the book “Christ is All”, which we were studying in a small group, when the author stated “Someone has said that the most neglected holy day in the church calendar is Ascension Day. Multitudes celebrate Christmas, Lent, Good Friday, Easter, and Pentecost. But most of our congregations have given little if any thought to the one event when Christ was crowned King of the Universe”, (pg. 41). I was one of those preachers who had never taught on this subject. In this week’s blog I would like to share a few thoughts with you on what Jesus is doing now that He has ascended to His heavenly throne.
On the night of Jesus’s betrayal we read these words in the 14th chapter of John’s gospel “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places, if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also”, (v.2-3 NASB). In the ancient Biblical culture this is the language of the bridegroom as he goes to prepare the bridal suite and dwelling place for his soon to be bride. The place that Jesus is preparing for us will be a safe and secure place. It will be a place of rest and peace, filled with love and joy. Imagine how feeble and dim our conception of eternal glory is compared to what the actual place is like. Paul says in the 8th chapter of the book of Romans “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us”, (v.18 NASB). Think of our creator God, who in 6 days created all the heavens and earth, who has been working on our dwelling place for the last 2000 years. I am thrilled with the prospect of being with Jesus and that is solid ground for comfort and encouragement even in the most difficult circumstances. Paul had certainly experienced some of those circumstances.
The secondthing that Jesus is doing (this is not an exhaustive list) is making high priestly prayer for us. In the first epistle that John wrote to his friends, in the 2nd chapter, he tells them “My little children, I am writing these things to you that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous” (v.1 NASB). So we can see Jesus is our advocate in heaven. The provision of our advocate in heaven is a very important ministry. The Greek word for advocate is paraclete and speaks of one “who is called alongside to help”. It really is a judicial term and should be understood as our having a lawyer in heaven pleading our case. Please notice He is “with the Father”. In this case our attorney is the Son of the eternal judge. It is our advocate who claims our acquittal on His payment of our full penalty. If our attorney is the Son of the Judge I would say under those circumstances we have an eternal chance of acquittal.
Another part of Jesus’ heavenly ministry is that He acts as our intercessor. The writer of Hebrews in the 4th chapter tells us, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness but one, who has been tempted in all things we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need, (v.14-16 NASB). Due to our weaknesses and frailties in our walk we need an intercessor. Jesus enables us to hold fast and enter our rest because He is the ascended Lord or glory. How are we to come to our intercessor? The Scripture says with confidence of boldly because He understands our needs and accepts us as we are. As I bow my knees daily in prayer to Jesus daily, I am reminded that my Lord and God is seated in heaven to intercede for me. What a great encouragement that is for us to bring all our needs to Jesus and leave them with Him. He is truly greater than any problems you and I may be experiencing.
All for Christ ,Pastor Rich Sivo