Jesus’ ascension receives little attention these days. The way we often tell the story, the whole affair is mostly anticlimactic. We tend to think of the ascension as this brief, strange moment when Jesus pulled off one last spectacular feat, vanishing into some distant place. Or worse, the story leaves us empty. What kind of good news is this? He simply bolts after promising a new life and a new world?
Luke describes Jesus’ disciples standing there after He vanished, jaws dropped and “staring into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Sometimes when I read the account I feel the same way—bewildered.
When Jesus ascended to the Father, however, He wasn’t performing intergalactic space travel or rocketing into some faraway galaxy. Rather, Jesus moved out of the confines of the world we know into the heavenly realm from which God rules this very earth (Colossians 1:15-20). He didn’t abandon us but moved into another sphere of reality so that by His Spirit, He could be present with all of us in every place (John 14:26, 16:7). In that way, He would be with us “always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).
The “same Jesus” who knows our deep scars and wrenching sorrows, our broken dreams and longings is the One who ascended (Acts 1:11 NIV). Now the True Human sits at the Father’s right hand, ruling over the world, ruling over our lives. His ascension is God’s promise that our own humanity will one day also be fully healed and restored to enjoy life with God. And it’s a promise that through the Spirit, Jesus is bringing His resurrection victory into every corner of creation (Romans 8:20-23).
The ascension assures us that Jesus is not far, but near. His love, power, and healing are everywhere.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Acts 25:1-27
Read through the details of Jesus’ transfiguration in Matthew 17:1-13. How is it similar to His ascension? How is it different?
What confuses you about the ascension story? What difference does it make to think of the human Jesus ruling over the world?