His Ascension, Our Peace (Acts 1:9) | Jared Betts

His Ascension, Our Peace (Acts 1:9) – YouTube

The Reality of the Ascension

An essential tenant of the Christian faith lies before us this morning. One that often gets quickly acknowledged before moving onto another tenant of the faith, or sometimes is completely overlooked all together.

Much is said about the Second coming of Jesus Christ, and rightfully so, because it is our hope. We long for the day that our Lord returns for those whom he has purchased for Himself with His very blood.[1] We are to eagerly anticipate that day when He returns without reference to sin for those who have turned from themselves and trusted in His substitutionary work on the cross as the sinless Son of God taking on flesh to become what we are so that we might become what He is.[2]

The Second Coming, however, cannot be a reality if Christ remained on the earth after He died and rose again. For there to be a return to earth, there must be an ascension from the earth. This is exactly what Luke records for us in Acts on the Mount of Olives forty days after the resurrection. Christ commissioned His apostles to be witnesses to the world of His life, death, and resurrection, and Luke says in Acts 1:9:

After He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”

Luke has previously said in his gospel account that:

“While He was blessing them, He parted from them and was carried up into heaven.”[3]

The risen Christ was physically raised up on high and taken up by the clouds into heaven to be received by the Father into His glory. 1 Timothy 3:16 says of Christ:

16 He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.”

He was taken up so that He might sit down at the right hand of the throne of God.[4]

This event is seen both directly and indirectly in the Old Testament Scriptures. Psalm 68:18 plainly states of the Lord:

“You have ascended on high, You have led captive Your captives.”

In Psalm 110:1 the ascension of the Christ is implied:

“The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”

Jesus’ being carried up to the Father was not a side not in His ministry.[5] It was a matter He frequently brought to the attention of His hearers. John 6:62:

62 What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?”

John 7:33-34:

33 Therefore Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. 34 You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

John 8:21:

21 Then He said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek Me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.”

John 14:19:

19 After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.”

John 14:28-29:

28 You heard that I said to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe.”

John 16:16-17:

16 A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” 17 Some of His disciples then said to one another, “What is this thing He is telling us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?”

John 16:28:

28 I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.”

John 20:17:

17 I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.’”

Where is Christ today? He is alive and well reigning at the right hand of the Father. His ascension is certified by eyewitnesses and by angels,[6] by Stephen as he saw the heavens opened and the ascended Christ “standing at the right hand of God” ushering him into His presence as he was being stoned to death,[7] by Saul on the road to Damascus as Jesus revealed Himself to him “from heaven” in brilliant light, brighter than the sun,[8] and by the apostle John on the Isle of Patmos who saw all of heaven and earth worshiping at the throne of God saying:

“To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”[9]

Truly, Christ lives, and reigns, and is in control at the right hand of the throne of God where He ascended to. He did not remain on this earth. The ascension is the removal of Christ’s bodily presence from it, and His establishment in heaven as the God-man now and forever. One source says of the ascension:

“It is the consummation of His redemptive work. The Christ of the Gospels is the Christ of history, the Christ of the past, but the full New Testament picture of Christ is that of a living Christ, the Christ of heaven, the Christ of experience, the Christ of the present and the future.”[10]

Why should we rejoice over the reality of the ascension of Jesus? There are several reasons we should focus on today. First, it declares to the world His superiority over everything. Second, it confirms the completeness of His redemptive work on behalf of His people. Lastly, it establishes His ministry as our Advocate with the Father who continually intercedes on our behalf.

The Superiority of the Ascended Son

Let us first consider the superiority of the ascended Son over all things. As Christ was physically being carried up to the Father in the clouds, God was lifting Christ up in exultation. Peter says of Christ in Acts 5:31:

31 He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”

To exalt is to lift on high, to raise to dignity, to elevate one to a position of honor.

With His ascension into glory, God demonstrated that Christ is worthy of all honor, glory, and praise. He ascended to where He was before to be glorified with the glory He had with the Father before the world was.[11] Paul says in Ephesians 1:19-20 that God:

“Raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.”

Philippians 2:9-11 tells us that after Jesus Christ, who has always existed as God, did not cling on to His divine prerogatives as God’s equal, but stripped Himself of all privilege by subjecting Himself to the limitations of His creation by humbly taking upon Himself humanity, and further humbling Himself by subjecting Himself to death on the cross:

“God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

The author of Hebrews says of Christ that:

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.”[12]

God exalted Christ! Not merely by raising Him from the heart of the earth three days after His vicarious death on the cross as a curse for His people, but by raising Him from the earth itself forty days after His victorious resurrection. The ascension establishes the essential truth of Christianity that Paul beautifully describes in 1 Timothy 6:15-16, that Jesus Christ:

“Is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.”

All things have been created by Him and for Him.[13] Everything is in subjection to Him.[14] He is therefore to have preeminence in everything for He has ascended on high and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God with all power and authority being given to Him on heaven and earth.[15]

The question is, do we know Him, and love Him, and subject ourselves to His rule and authority? There are some who insist saying, “You need to make Christ Lord of your life.” This is foolishness. It is borderline blasphemous to think that one has the capability to make Christ anything. Jesus Christ is already Lord without our doing. A person either understands this truth and subjects themselves to Christ, or they reject it and commit high treason by defying the only Sovereign. It is imperative we understand that those who do not acknowledge Him as Lord have not experienced Him as Savior. It was Matthew Henry that said:

“All the grace contained in [the Bible] is owing to Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior; and, unless we consent to Him as our Lord we cannot expect any benefit by Him as our Savior.”

In other words, a person must subject themselves to Christ’s Lordship to be saved:

That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”[16]

His ascension proves His superiority over everything. As Paul says, “From Him and through Him and to Him are all things.”[17] Christ is the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

The Ascension Confirms Redemption

The second matter we need to consider about the reality of Christ being exalted to the throne of God is that it confirms the completeness of His redemptive work on behalf of those who turn from themselves and trust in Him alone. Hebrews 10:12 says:

12 He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God.”

The author of Hebrews later implores us to fix our eyes on Christ:

“The author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”[18]

Our admittance into the very presences of God requires the removal of our sin and the imputation of righteousness. Our sins need to be dealt with and we need a righteousness that is not our own. The resurrection proved that Christ’s atoning work on the cross in the place of guilty man was satisfactory to God. It proved He sufficiently died for us. It showed that He made an actual atonement for our sin. The ascension demonstrated that Christ’s righteousness, as a Man, is enough to gain us access to God. It proves He sufficiently lived for us so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him enabling us to forever live with Him as our God, and we as His sons and daughters.[19]

Jesus lived and died for us. Christ became our sin so that we might become His righteousness. He who is rich became poor, so that we who are poor might become rich through His poverty.[20] If Christ had not been permitted access to God, He would be of no benefit to us. If the God-man were not granted entry to the throne of His Father, we would be without a way to Him and we would therefore be without hope. We would need another who could mediate between us and God. As Paul says, however, in Colossians 1:19-23:

19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. 21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.”

The ascension of Jesus Christ is the culminating point of His redemptive work. It is the tangible truth that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and that no one comes to the Father but through Him.[21] It is the physical declaration that there is only one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.[22] It is the furnished proof that there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.[23] It was Charles Spurgeon that said:

“Christ has ascended upon high. Think you He would have returned thither with unexpiated sin red upon His garments? Do you suppose He would have ascended to the rest and to the reward of an accomplished work? What! sit at his Father’s right hand to be crowned for doing nothing, and rest until His adversaries are made his footstool, when He has not performed his Father’s will! Absurd! Impossible! His ascension in stately pomp, amidst the acclamations of angels, to the enjoyment of His Father’s continued smile, is the sure proof that the work is complete.”

Praise God He has ascended on high!

The Intercession of the Ascended Son

This brings us to the final reason we should rejoice over the ascension of Christ, which is that the exalted Son of God, the One who is superior over all things and who has completed His redemptive work on behalf of His people, is sitting at the right hand of the throne of God interceding as a High Priest on behalf of those He has redeemed, on our behalf. Hebrews 8:1-2 says:

We have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens, a minister in the sanctuary and in the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, not man.”

            In the Old Testament, the high priests interceded on behalf of the people of Israel.  They offered sacrifices and took the blood into the temple to sprinkle it upon the mercy seat once a year to cover the sins of the people. They also interceded on the people’s behalf through prayer. Hebrews 9:11-12 says:

11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; 12 and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption.”

The high priest could only minister in such a way as long as he was alive. Mean death would end his intercessory ministry on behalf of the people. Christ, however, lives never to die again. Hebrews 7:25-28 says:

25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever.”

He has interceded for us by the sacrifice of Himself, and He is continuing to intercede for us by praying for us, just as He prayed for Peter when Satan wanted to sift Him like wheat, that our faith may not fail us.[24] John 17:13-26 gives us an understanding of what Christ prays for us as our High Priest. Take a moment to consider the contents of His prayer and see Christ’s desire for your life:

13 But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. 14 I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. 18 As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. 19 For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.

20 “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; 21 that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.”

22 The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. 24 Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

25 “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; 26 and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”

Christ’s intercessory work on our behalf upon the throne truly emphasizes our eternal security in Him. No one can snatch us out of His hands. Rightly does Paul say in Romans 8:31-34:

31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us.”

His Ascension, Our Peace

His ascension truly is our peace. There is a Living Savior reigning on the throne and working all things after the council of His own will. Not only do we have a Living Lord and Savior, we have a High Priest who forever lives to make intercession for us. Are you struggling with sin? Know that you have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous, who is the propitiation for your sins.[25] It is just as Job as:

“Even now, behold, my witness is in heaven, and my advocate is on high.”[26]

Are you weary from temptation and the common battles of life in this fallen world? Know that you have a High Priest who has passed through the heavens who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.[27] He is One who has been made like us in all things and is therefore able to sympathize with us.[28] Hebrews 4:16:

16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

Draw near to the throne of grace with confidences, Christian, because upon that throne we have a High Priest willing and able to continually come to our aid and prove Himself strong in our lives. Not only does He desire us to come to Him in prayer with our cares, but He is praying perfectly for us according to the Fathers will. Robert Murray McCheyne said this:

“If I could hear Christ praying for me in the next room, I would not fear a million enemies. Yet distance makes no difference. He is praying for me.”

Consider the Scripture, Christians, and find comfort, find joy, find peace, find contentment in His ascension. His life above is the promise and guarantee of ours. He said:

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. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also… 19 After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.”[29]

Romans 6:34:

Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.”

Ephesians 2:4-7:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 3:1-4 says:

“Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.”

Revelation 3:21:

21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”

Where is Christ today? He is physically alive and well seated and reigning on the throne of heaven, and interceding on our behalf. Spiritually, however, He is with us even to the remotest parts of the earth. John Calvin said:

“When Christ returned to heaven, He withdrew His physical presence from our sight.  He didn’t stop being with the disciples but by the ascension fulfilled His promise to be with us to the end of the world.  As His body was raised to heaven, so His power and reign have spread to the uttermost parts.”

He removed His human nature from this earth, but His divine nature is all present, and He has made our bodies His abode. It was Augustine that said:

“He departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here.”

We should find comfort, encouragement, and peace knowing that the ascended Christ is always with us, even to the end of the age.

Let us close considering and appreciating the lyrics to the song, O Fount of Love, written by Matt Boswell:

“Oh, fount of love divine that flows
From my Savior’s bleeding side
Where sinners trade their filthy rags
For His righteousness applied
Mercy cleansing every stain
Now rushing o’er us like a flood
There the wretch and vilest ones
Stand adopted through His blood

Oh, mount of grace to Thee we cling
From the law hath set us free
Once and for all on Calvery’s hill
Love and justice shall agree
Praise the Lord the price is paid
The curse defeated by the Lamb
We who once were slaves by birth
Sons and daughters now we stand

Oh, well of joy is mine to drink
For my Lord has conquered death
Victorious forevermore
The ancient foe is laid to rest
Hallelujah Christ is King
Alive and reigning on the throne
Our tongues employed with hymns of praise
Glory be to God alone”

[1] 1 Peter 1:19

[2] John 1:1; 14; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:28

[3] Luke 24:51

[4] Revelation 3:21

[5] Luke 9:51

[6] Acts 1:9-11

[7] Acts 7:55-56

[8] Acts 9:3-5; 22:6-8; 26:13-15

[9] Revelation 5:13

[10] Ascension – International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (blueletterbible.org)

[11] John 17:5

[12] Hebrews 1:3-4

[13] Colossians 1:16

[14] Ephesians 1:22

[15] Matthew 28:18; Colossians 1:18

[16] Romans 10:9

[17] Romans 11:36

[18] Hebrews 12:1-3

[19] Revelation 21:7

[20] 2 Corinthians 8:9

[21] John 14:6

[22] 1 Timothy 2:5-6

[23] Acts 4:12

[24] Luke 22:31-34

[25] 1 John 2:1-2

[26] Job 16:19

[27] Hebrews 4:15

[28] Hebrews 2:14-18

[29] John 14:2-3,19-20

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