ODJ: Happy Ascension Day

May 5, 2016 

READ: Luke 24:50-53  

While [Jesus] was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven (v.51).

Let me be the first to say to you, Happy Ascension Day! Today we commemorate when Jesus’ disciples witnessed their risen Lord being “taken up to heaven” (Luke 24:50-51). It’s understandable if you didn’t know about this special date. Generally speaking, it’s a day on the church calendar that often comes quietly and goes with little attention or fanfare.

But the supernatural event that occurred 40 days after Jesus arose from the dead is epic! It wasn’t a minor detail that Luke included in the conclusion of his gospel or in Acts 1:9. Nor did the apostle Peter bring it up to add a bit of dramatic flair to the end of his Pentecost Day sermon (Acts 2:32-35). Jesus’ ascension is recorded because it was meant to tell us something very important about Him.

Christ’s ascension into heaven was a symbolic act of His sovereign rule over all the earth. As the One seated at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19), He’s the world’s true King.

Sadly, the ascension of Jesus is as much misunderstood as it is overlooked. Theologian N.T. Wright points out that for many people the ascension “implies Jesus’ absence, not his universal presence and sovereign rule”.

But that’s not at all the way the apostle Paul saw it. He wrote that Jesus ascended “so that he might fill the entire universe with himself” (Ephesians 4:9-10). Writing on another occasion, Paul pointed out that Jesus ascended so “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Happy Ascension Day! Jesus reigns through the power of His self-giving love—now and forevermore.

—Jeff Olson

365-day plan: Esther 4:1-17

Read Matthew 16:28 and consider how Jesus presents His ascension in this verse. 
What’s one way you can celebrate the ascension of Jesus Christ today? How does it inspire you to know that Jesus reigns forevermore?