The Benefits of Ascension Day

The Ascension of our Lord is an often overlooked holiday, but it’s an important one.  I think I first encountered this holiday when I served as a teacher in Indonesia.  Despite the fact that Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country, they celebrated the Ascension of Jesus, as Christianity is recognized (tolerated?) as one of their official religions.  Anyway, Ascension Day marks the fortieth day of Easter, and recalls the story of Jesus ascending to heaven, as recorded in Luke 24 and Acts 1.  So, considering that Ascension Day is not observed by some churches, why is it important?  I turn to one of the Reformed confessions of faith, the Heidelberg Catechism, to answer that question.  The teacher asks, “How does Christ’s ascension to heaven benefit us?” The answer: “First, he pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of the Father.  Second, we have our own flesh in heaven—a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, his members, to himself in heaven.  Third, he sends his Spirit to us on earth as a further guarantee.  By the Spirit’s power we make the goal of our lives not earthly things, but the things above where Christ is, sitting God’s right hand.”  So as you can see, Ascension Day is a very significant day for Followers of Jesus.  What I find especially significant is the hope it brings, for in a few weeks will celebrate Pentecost Sunday, when we recall how our Lord sent down the Holy Spirit in his place, so we can grow spiritually and carry out his mission in the world.  As we learn in Acts 1: the Holy Spirit makes us witnesses.  So, let us worship our risen Lord, who ascended to heaven for our benefit.

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