After being raised from the dead, Jesus spent forty days preparing his disciples (Acts 1:3) before being “taken up” from them to heaven (v. 11).
Most Christians don’t need convincing that the cross is crucial or that the resurrection is central to the gospel message. The ascension, however, is perhaps a different story.
Here are four reasons why it is a big deal.
Taken up, the Son returned to the Father
A few Christmases ago, my family went to Puerto Rico to spend the holiday with my in-laws. Because I had to work, my wife and kids went a few weeks ahead ahead of me. It was the longest we’d been apart since we had been married. Needless to say, the reunion was anticipated and sweet!
Jesus spoke of his reunion: “I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father” (John 16:28).
Imagine the heavenly celebration when God the Son returned to God the Father. What’s more, Jesus’s homecoming prepared the way for our homecoming (John 14:2–4)!
Taken up, the Son sent the Spirit
It’s hard to be more clear than this: “It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).
Jesus, in one of his last conversations with his disciples, explained that for them to receive the Holy Spirit, he must go away. And, he adds, it’s actually better for them if this happens. And happen it did (see Acts 2).
We, as Christ followers, have God the Spirit because God the Son ascended. The Spirit was sent to be with us (John 14:16), to empower us for our mission (Acts 1:8), and to transform us steadily and inevitable into the likeness of Jesus himself (Romans 8:9–11; 2 Corinthians 3:18).
Taken up, the Son serves as our advocate
Have you ever had someone stand up for you? Someone with more clout, more power, more prestige than yourself? You’re were in trouble but suddenly, because of this brave individual, you’re not.
Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ is in the corner for his children—he has their back. And, we know there is nobody with more power and influence than him!
After he was taken up to heaven, Jesus sat down next to the Father (Heb. 1:3), a position from which he currently serves as a mediator between God and men (1 Tim. 2:5). He is our Advocate (1 John 2:1).
Taken up, the Son will return as King and Judge
I can’t come home from work unless I first leave to work. Obviously.
When Jesus went up to heaven the disciples stood and stared after him. (I think I would have done the same!) Angels then appeared to them, saying: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
It’s a promise. As he left (physically, suddenly) so he will return (physically, suddenly). He will come to set up his kingdom on earth and reign perfectly and judge justly (Rev. 11:15; 19:10–16; 22:3). Then, all that is broken will be fixed; all that is wrong will be righted.
And, that’s why we say, “Come, Lord Jesus.”