21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him” (I Peter 3:21-22).
As important as the death, burial and resurrection are to the message of the gospel and the Christian faith, the ultimate work of Jesus Christ was His ascension into heaven. It is unfortunate that the current evangelical church largely ignores the Ascension of Jesus Christ.
The biblical author and historian Luke records the Ascension of Jesus in Acts 1:6-11. 6 “So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” 9 And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Why is the ascension so important that both Luke and Peter record it? First, the ascension depicts the way Jesus Christ will return. The angels (Acts 1:10) told the disciples that Jesus would return in the same way that departed: visibly, bodily, gradually and in the clouds.
I Thessalonians 4:16-17 says, “16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”
Regardless of the various interpretations as to exactly when the events Paul wrote about in I Thessalonians 4 will actually occur, one indisputable fact remains: Jesus Christ, the Lord Himself, will descend from heaven.
Secondly, His ascension, along with His return, is a declaration of Jesus Christ’s glory following His humiliation. He is the sovereign God of the universe. The Apostle Paul wrote, “13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, 14 to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which he will display at the proper time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see. To him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen” (I Timothy 6:13-16).
One author writes, “Jesus is indeed coming from heaven at the end of the age to consummate His plan and bring a new heaven and earth (Rev. 21). But He is not coming back to establish His kingdom and take His throne, for as Matthew 24:1–31 and Acts 1:6–11 inform us, Christ took this throne when He ascended on high and judged the city of Jerusalem in the first century. Jesus is reigning now, and because He is king, we can serve Him in confidence of His final victory.”
Today, let us celebrate that Jesus Christ is currently the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is in control.
Soli deo Gloria!