What difference does it make that Jesus ascended? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
We can often read about the ascension in the Bible and wonder what difference it makes. I mean, yeah, Jesus is no longer with us, but does it mean anything else for us? Why would Jesus ascend and leave us to do the work?
For one thing, it is important that we do the work and we would not be as able to do it with Jesus always there with us. Discipling is for a reason but there comes a time when the student is to work apart from the disciple. Note even Jesus said it was because He was going away that the Holy Spirit would come, which would be empowering His message and His disciples everywhere. Jesus being physical could only be in one place at one time.
It’s also important to ask why he ascended. Does this point to an ancient view of the universe? While the ancients certainly might have thought that way, Jesus is not making a statement about cosmology or the location of Heaven really.
Instead, let us consider that the sky is the greatest expanse that we know of when we grow up on this Earth. It’s limitless. No matter where you look, you see it. In comparison, when you go to a beach, as I have done many times, including on my honeymoon, you can look on the shore and see the ocean going far out into the distance. Now we all know eventually past that ocean somewhere is land. If you could travel in a straight line from where you are, eventually, you would hit another mass of land, but you cannot see that mass. Your vision goes so far. All you see is ocean.
When we look into the sky, all we see is sky. Now we all know that eventually if we could keep going straight up into the sky, we’d hit something. It could take awhile, but we’d reach another planet or a star or something of that sort, but our vision can only go so far.
That limitlessness is a good idea of how to view God. God is infinite and to see Jesus go up is a way of saying He’s going to something far greater than we are. Had Jesus instead burrowed underground and disappeared that way, we would have a quite different view of God. (Picture the stories going around years ago about claiming to find Hell under Siberia when people were digging.)
Had Jesus also simply vanished, it would mean that we would be wondering where He went to. Could it be that He is still somewhere around here? Having Jesus ascend is a way of saying that Jesus is going to God, who is far greater than we are, and that He is also no longer going to be with us.
Since He is no longer with us, what are we to do then? That’s right. We are to do the work that he meant for us to do. Of course, I do recommend that we disciple people sufficiently before they do the work, but that discipling is also to be done by other people who have already been discipled.
Jesus is now ascended. So what’s He doing? We’ll save that for the next installment in this series.