Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Ascension

Ascension Window Church of Our Saviour Rock Hill, SC

This Sunday we remembered the Ascension of Jesus (officially the Sunday after the Feast of the Ascension). 

In previous posts on the Ascension of Christ, I have thought about what this event means to modern people. Granted, I might not be qualified to do so since many would consider this writer to not be among the "modern." 

I believe the most pressing issue, and the one that will come up if one is asked to explain the Christian faith is whether or not this event is fact or fiction.

I hear it all the time, "Do you really believe that Jesus was lifted up into heaven and sits at the right hand of God?" The assumption is the anyone who does believe this must be a relic from the iron age.

I also hear, "You don't have to believe in it to be a Christian."

Hmmm...

As a Christian, the Ascension as witnessed by the disciples cannot be tossed out as a mere postscript to the life of Jesus of Nazareth.  The Ascension is a crucial part of the story. I don't think one easily can say that that Jesus was resurrected but not ascended. It would be easier to say the Jesus was not resurrected and not ascended, as some of our more outspoken Episcopal bishops and theologians have claimed in the past, than to deny the one and accept the other.

As Christians, we should shout the message that "Christ has risen" just as loudly when proclaiming his ascension to an unbelieving world as we do when rejoicing in his resurrection on Easter Sunday.

So where did he go, and what is he doing there? I fall back upon the words of another dinosaur, J.C. Ryle (1816–1900)  the first Anglican bishop of Liverpool,

"Christ is now carrying on in heaven the work of a priest, which He began upon earth.He took our nature on Him in the fullness of time and became a man, that He might be perfectly fitted to be the Priest that our case required. As a priest, He offered up His body and soul as a sacrifice for sin upon the cross, and made a complete atonement for us with His own blood. As a priest, He ascended up on high, passed within the veil, and entered into the presence of God. As a priest, He is now sitting on our behalf at the right hand of God; and what He began actively on earth, He is carrying on actively in heaven. This is what Christ is doing." — J. C. Ryle


"That same Jesus who once died for sinners, still lives at the right hand of God, to carry on the work of salvation which He came down from heaven to perform.He lives to receive all who come unto God by Him, and to give them power to become the sons of God.He lives to hear the confession of every heavy-laden conscience, and to grant, as an almighty High Priest, perfect absolution.He lives to pour down the Spirit of adoption on all who believe in Him, and to enable them to cry, Abba, Father!He lives to be the one Mediator between God and man, the unwearied Intercessor, the kind Shepherd, the elder Brother, the prevailing Advocate, the never-failing Priest and Friend of all who come to God by Him.He lives to be wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption to all His people—to keep them in life, to support them in death, and to bring them finally to eternal glory." -J. C. Ryle


3 comments:

  1. Thank you for this marvellous post, the photo of the beautiful stained glass window in your church and the eloquent quotes from J C Ryle! (How is it that no one else has 'liked' it yet?)

    Would that Ryle lived today. He would have won over many with his sermons!

    May all Christians long remember the Ascension -- and hold it as essential to our beliefs.

    Equally looking forward to Pentecost, the Church's birthday!

    Best wishes for the week ahead
    Churchmouse

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    1. Thanks for visiting Churchmouse. I am afraid to think about Ryle being let loose on this age. He would be a holy terror.

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