We often hear about the importance of the crucifixion and the resurrection in developing our understanding of God – our theology. But, what about the ascension? The ascension – Jesus being taken up into heaven after his resurrection – is narrated in Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, and Acts 1:9-11. In the same passage, Mark also mentions that Jesus is seated at the right of the Father, often called the station of Jesus.
But, what does the ascension do for our theology? We know about the importance of the crucifixion and the resurrection. Is the ascension important for us today? There are a few passages that demonstrate the importance of the ascension.
First, consider John 16:7 -
Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7 ESV)
According to this passage, the Holy Spirit came to us because of the ascension of Jesus. If he had not ascended, the Holy Spirit would not have come.
Next, consider Ephesians 1:18-20 -
…that you may know… what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places… (Ephesians 1:18-20 ESV)
According to this passage, the resurrection through the station (which would include the ascension) is a demonstration of God’s power toward believers. This is a power that we can know.
Finally, consider Ephesians 4:8-10 -
Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:8-10 ESV)
According to this passage, because of the ascension Jesus gives gifts to believers. In the context, this is spiritual gifts, which are given through the Spirit. So, this passage is related to John 16:7.
Are there other passages of Scripture that can help us understand the importance of the ascension of Jesus in our understanding of God and our relationship with God?