(A sermon based on Luke 24:44-53 & Ephesians 1:15-23 for Ascension Day 2013)
Following his resurrection, Jesus spent 40 days with his disciples and then, on that fortieth day, he ascended to take his place at the right hand of his Father. From there he rules over all that is and from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
This, then, is an awe-inspiring day. It is a day to celebrate the power of God and the lordship of Christ.
It is a day to celebrate the fact that Jesus is beyond us. After his resurrection he came back to his disciples but then forty days later he left them. Jesus Christ is the Son of God who left his place with the Father to come here as a human being who lived, died, and rose again. Then he ascended—he went back to be with his Father and in so doing he went somewhere that they could not go, at least not yet. So this is a good day to remember and to celebrate that Jesus Christ is beyond us. He is God and he is to be worshiped.
When Jesus left his followers he left them for good—not in the sense that he would never come back because he will but in the sense that it was for their (and our) good. He said so himself when he said that it was good for his followers if he went away because then the Father would send the Holy Spirit who would be with them.
It is an ironic truth: Jesus Christ is beyond us and because he is beyond us he is always with us. That is because in God’s gracious plan the ascension of Jesus led to the Father’s sending of the Holy Spirit which is the Spirit of God and the Spirit of Christ; that Spirit will never leave us.
It is a day to celebrate the fact that Jesus is above all things. When he ascended, Jesus took his place as Lord of everything that is in the universe. Through his resurrection and subsequent ascension, Jesus became greater than every other power or influence in the universe. Absolutely everything is under his feet. There is nothing that is not under him and that will not finally bow down before him and submit to him. Jesus is Lord!
It is an amazing truth: the same power of God that caused Jesus to be raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father in heavenly places is available to us right here and right now! That great power of God is working in and through us.
It is a day to celebrate the fact that Jesus is beside the Father. To say that Jesus is at the right hand of the Father is to say that he is in the position of honor and power. From his place of honor and power Jesus rules all of creation. From that position he is our Lord and so he rules our lives and the life of the Church.
It is an awe-inspiring truth: the life of the resurrected and ascended Christ fills the Church. We are filled with the life of Jesus Christ our Lord!
As you can see, Ascension Day is a day to celebrate God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Now, can we get a glimpse of the difference the Ascension makes for us?