Orthodox Icon – The Ascension of Christ

The primary school my youngest two children attend is closed today for Ascension Day. It’s interesting to me that this public school would choose

to take the day off for a Christian holiday – indicative of the religious climate of Cape Town. I have never celebrated Ascension Day. I am aware of the meaning, but I come from a “Christmas and Easter and every day in between” background. So, no Ascension Day, Pentecost, Epiphany, etc.

My son was explaining what they said in the school assembly about the meaning of Ascension Day. Essentially that Ascension Day celebrates when Jesus went back to heaven so he could send the Holy Spirit (at Pentecost). The reason it was important is because Jesus could only be in one place at a time, but the Holy Spirit can be with everyone everywhere. Yes, this was explained at the school assembly…

This is an important part of Jesus’ story – and ours. The sending of the Holy Spirit is the birth of the Church, the empowerment of God’s people, the spread of the Kingdom. That’s all Pentecost (which we celebrate soon). But Ascension Day is more than just a setup for Pentecost. Jesus ascending to heaven is hugely significant. Two reasons jump out at me.

First, Jesus ascending means he didn’t just go away after his birth, death, and resurrection. The Holy Spirit coming isn’t simply a next step, leaving Jesus with nothing to do until the last day. I did a quick search and came up with all these verses which refer to Jesus now seated at the right hand of the Father:

  • Acts 2:32-35
  • Romans 8:34
  • Ephesians 1:20
  • Hebrews 1:3
  • Hebrew 4:14-16
  • Hebrews 10:12
  • Hebrews 12:2
  • 1 Peter 3:22
  • Revelation 3:21

Jesus, having ascended, is now seated at the right hand of the Father. He was with God in the beginning and now has gone back to his rightful place of authority over everything (the one he gave up for us in his incarnation). And what is he doing on that throne? He is speaking to the Father on our behalf (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:25). Can you picture the Father and Son sitting there speaking about how much they love you, watching what you are doing today? I believe he is also still putting in appearances here on earth. Literally. Revealing himself to people, helping, inviting, saving.

Further, Jesus ascending and being seated at the right hand of the Father means that WE are also in that place. In Ephesians 2:4-10, we read
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
We sit in this most holy place because Jesus does and we are with him! Thank you Jesus. We can live the lives we are meant to live because we live FROM the right place – with God. Knowing where we belong, and who we belong to,

makes all the difference in HOW we live. All the gifts, power, and authority that come from the Holy Spirit are useless if we don’t start from a place of intimacy with God, shaping our hearts to live well. Intimacy shapes our identity so we can live with authority.

All that because Jesus ascended 🙂

Happy Ascension Day everyone.

Your thoughts:

  1. How much have you considered Jesus’ Ascension?
  2. What do you think Jesus is up to these days?
  3. What would be an appropriate way to celebrate the Ascension?
  4. What else?