Ascension (#40)

Where high the heavenly temple stands,
The house of God not made with hands,
A great high priest our nature wears,
The guardian of mankind appears.

He who for men their surety stood,
And poured on earth His precious blood,
Pursues in Heaven His mighty plan,
The Savior and the friend of man.

Michael Bruce

“And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, the was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.” (Acts 1:9, ESV)

Because he became human, Jesus returned to life not as a spirit, but in the flesh, bearing his wounds of torture as proof of his victory. And he ascended to heaven in the flesh.

Why is it important that Jesus was resurrected and ascended bodily—as a human?

It is important because, strange as it may sound, his work is not over; he is still interceding for us. His atoning work is complete and has been applied to our lives. His mediating work continues, perhaps for all eternity. While on earth, Jesus is interceding to the Father for us. (Romans 8, Hebrews 7) As the hymn says, “a great high priest our nature wears.”

In different eras or cultures, we hone in on different topics. Christ’s work as mediator used to be considered a major topic in theology. The Puritans waxed eloquent on the topic in their sermons. John Bunyan wrote 150 pages on what it means for Christ to intercede for us. Thomas Goodwin wrote 400 pages on Christ as mediator; John Flavel wrote over 500.

Everything that Christ does in the atonement is available to us now because he intercedes for us in heaven. He is not only the best representation of God before man; he is the best representation of man before God.

What great sympathy God shows us in our plight!—

“…who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:6-8, ESV)

But that was not the end of the story—

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name.” (Philippians 2:9, ESV)

Jesus, thank you that you are alive in heaven, even now, interceding for me and standing as our great High Priest and our Atonement. We bless your name because you have covered our sins, brought us to God, and provided all that we need for life and godliness. We bless your name because you have saved us out of a life of temptation into a life of purpose and victory. Guard those who trust in your name, for we have no other to turn to.

Amen.

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