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Exactly forty days after Easter Sunday, Jesus was taken up bodily into heaven (Acts 1:3 and 9).  On Thursday the church marks this mighty event.  What does it mean?

We might wonder why it was such a big deal for the Son of God to be taken back into his Father’s heavenly presence.  After all, he came from heaven in the first place!  True.  But he does not return in the same form he was in when he left.  Let me explain:

When the Son of God departed from his heavenly life to unite himself to human nature in Mary’s womb, he was the eternal Son of God and nothing more.  But in Mary’s womb, this eternal Son took on human nature.  From that moment, God the Son – who was with the Father before the world began – has lived as the human being Jesus. 

His human nature was like ours.  It was subject to pain, temptation and death.  He didn’t commit sin himself, but as he hung on the cross he “became sin for us” (2 Cor 5:21).  Carrying the combined guilt and shame of a rebellious world, he was reckoned to be, the very embodiment of sin. 

The staggering truth about the Ascension is that he was admitted into heaven as a man.  This human being, who had died for his fellows, was welcomed as representative of all believers.  One hymn puts it like this: he “lifts our humanity to the heights of his throne”.  His welcome into heaven gains access for us too.  Because he is there, the Father reckons that we are there too, as present in the Father’s intimate presence as Jesus is.    

The Son of God ascended as a man.  As a result, “our lives are hidden with Christ in God”.  Therefore, set your mind on things above (Col 3:1-4).   

 


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