Q.46. What do you mean by saying, “He ascended to heaven”?
A. That Christ, while his disciples watched, was lifted up from the earth to heaven and will be there for our good until he comes again to judge the living and the dead.
Jesus was not the first person to ascend to heaven. Nearly 900 years earlier, Elijah the prophet had ascended to heaven as a testimony to what God would do with the Great Prophet and Priest to come. Read 2Kings 2:9-14. Did you notice that Elijah not only ascended to heaven, but his spirit also fell upon his disciple Elisha? We can be assured that all Scripture testifies to Christ, as this story illustrates so well. The ascension of Elijah was a foreshadowing of the Ascension of Jesus who himself would go into heaven and send His Spirit to rest upon his disciples.Tuesday
Read John 16:5-16. Elijah’s ascension was a picture of Jesus’ rising into heaven, and Jesus affirmed this when he spoke of sending his Spirit to lead his people. The coming of the Spirit was related to Jesus’ bodily entrance into heaven. Read Luke 24:50-51. Jesus always fulfills his words and promises.
Not only did the 12 apostles see Jesus ascend, but Stephen also witnessed Jesus in his exalted state as Saul and the other Jews stoned him to death. His testimony is encouraging to us, for it assures all believers that what had been seen earlier was real, complete and eternal. Read Acts 7:55-56. Our Lord reigns in heaven!
Earlier we saw that Jesus’ ascent was a precursor to the sending of the Holy Spirit. But the rising of Christ into heaven brought all believers another wonderful benefit. By ascending to heaven, Jesus prays for his people in the very presence of God. He directly speaks to the Father on our behalf and seeks our best interest and God’s holiness in our lives. It is because of Jesus that we have direct access to the Father and can approach him without hesitation, but it is also because of Jesus’ presence in heaven that we can be assured God is working to redeem and transform us. All of this happens because our Lord intercedes for us. Read Romans 8:34, Hebrews 7:23-25, 9:24.
Jesus is our mediator, according to the Scriptures. He stands before God, on our behalf, having been condemned for our sin, and grafting us into his righteousness. But as a mediator, he also stands between God’s judgment and us. Jesus is going to return to the earth one day and his return will signal the judgment of the earth by fire according to the apostle Peter. You can read about it in 2Peter 3:10-13. But praise the Lord, as our mediator, Jesus promises to save all those who are found in him. His return to earth will signal the judgment of sinners and the final salvation of his people.
And when Jesus comes and judges the living and the dead, acquitting some and condemning others, it will be in accordance with the testimony of the Scriptures. The angels told the apostles that Jesus would return and Jesus himself assured them that he would come back and take them into God’s house. Read Acts 1:11 and John 14:2-3. What a blessing we have with our Savior who mediates for us, seeks our good, sends his Holy Spirit and plans to return to judge some, but save His people.