Study 10 THE NECESSITY OF HIS ASCENSION
THE PERSON AND WORK OF CHRIST
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Portion: Acts 1:1-9
There are three main scriptures which give us the historical record of the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are Mark 16:19; Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:9; and it is clear from these statements that our Saviour, who was crucified, who died and was buried and who rose again – ascended! This He did forty days after He rose again from the dead. We are apt to neglect the doctrine of the ascension of our Lord. We give far too little attention to this epoch in His earthly life than we do, for instance, to His birth, temptation, baptism, transfiguration, miracles and death. Yet it is true to say that all these earlier events in the life of our Lord would lose their significance without the fact of His ascension.
Every real Christian is a living proof of an ascended Lord! We are saved by an ascended Lord (Hebrews 7:25); we are kept, moment by moment, by an ascended Lord (Jude 24); we live in constant fellowship with an ascended Lord (1 John 1:3); we are represented before the Father by our Great Advocate, an ascended Lord (1 John 2:1); and the fact that our ascended Lord is with the Father is the guarantee of our life (John 14:19-20). How important the truth and the reality of His ascension are!
This triumphant event in the life and ministry of our Lord was not without previous intimations, and it will help in studying this theme to note that the ascension of our Lord was:
- (1) Represented in the Types of the Old Testament. Just as the High Priest entered into the ‘holiest of all’ with the blood of atonement, so our Lord has entered into the ‘holy place’ for us – look up Hebrews 9:11-12.
- (2) Declared by Old Testament Prophecy. Look up Psalm 68:18 and Ephesians 4:8-10.
- (3) Anticipated by our Lord Himself. He anticipated His ascension in three ways: in Prayer (John 17:11-13); in Parable (Luke 19:11-27), and especially notice verse 12; and in Promise (John 7:33; John 14:12; John 14:28; John 16:5; John 16:9-10 and John 20:17).
- (4) Recorded in History. His birth, His life and His death are recorded in history, and so is His ascension. Each historic fact is necessary to the integrity of the whole record.
- (5) Confirmed by the Angels. Just as angels announced His birth (Luke 2:9-10); and His resurrection (Mark 16:6-7); so His ascension was confirmed by angelic beings – look up Acts 1:9-11.
There are seven reasons why our Lord’s ascension was necessary.
1. The Ascension of the Lord Jesus was necessary because His earthly mission was completed
He came to do His Father’s will – look up Psalm 40:8, and this was to die upon Calvary’s Cross for the sins of men (John 1:29; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 9:26 and 1 Peter 2:24). In anticipation of this He prayed – John 17:4. In the process of doing this He said – John 19:30! When the work was actually finished, He ascended and “sat down…” – look up Hebrews 1:3 and 10:11-12.
2. The Ascension of the Lord Jesus was necessary in order that He might take up His priestly office
It was only His earthly work that was finished His heavenly work had not yet started. It was necessary for Him to ascend in order that He might begin this work – His priestly work. As our great High Priest He now stands in the presence of God as our Advocate (1 John 2:1); and our Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5). By Him alone we have access to the Father (John 14:6). He intercedes for us (Hebrews 7:25). Because He is our living ascended Lord, He keeps us from falling (Hebrews 4:14-16 and Jude 24).
3. The Ascension of the Lord Jesus was necessary in order that He might prepare our Heavenly Home
Look up John 14:2. Yes, at His ascension the Bridegroom went to prepare a place for His Bride. He has been engaged in that work of preparation for 2000 years. Heaven is a wonderful place! Where Christ our Forerunner has gone, His people may and will also go! – look up Hebrews 6:20. Is this your joyful prospect?
4. The Ascension of the Lord Jesus was necessary before He could send the Holy Spirit
See what John the Baptist said – Matthew 3:11. But this promise could not be fulfilled until the Lord Jesus ascended (John 7:39 and John 16:7). The Christian life is the life of the Lord Jesus in us by the power of the Holy Spirit, and this could only be made possible by the ascension of the Lord.
5. The Ascension of the Lord Jesus was necessary in order that greater things might be done
Look up the wonderful promise in John 14:12. His earthly body was local; His mystical body, the Church, is universal. While He walked the earth He ministered in only one place at a time He was localised by an earthly body; but because He ascended and poured out His Spirit and gave gifts to men, He is now able to work through millions of human bodies – see Mark 16:19-20.
6. The Ascension of the Lord Jesus was necessary in order that every Christian, everywhere, might enjoy His continual Presence
Matthew 18:20; Matthew 28:20 and Hebrews 13:5-6 could only be possible if He ascended. How wonderful! He is with me…now! – in my joys (John 2:1-11); in my sorrows (Isaiah 43:2); in my testings (Matthew 14:27); and in my departing (Psalm 23:4).
7. The Ascension of the Lord Jesus is necessary in order that we might have a pledge of His sure and certain return
He said, “If I go…I will come back” – look up John 14:2-3, and compare Acts 1:9-11. He has gone…and we can be quite sure that He will come again!