Many of us have probably noticed that Jesus isn’t here. I mean, He is always with us, He dwells within us as we believe, and He will never leave us. But He accomplishes all that through the Spirit (the 3rd Person of the Holy Trinity). Jesus of Nazareth (the 2nd Person of the Holy Trinity) is a human being (and also God). Being human, He has a physical body that can be seen and touched. That physical, human Lord has left this world.
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received out of their sight, Acts 1:9 NKJV.
Today is Ascension Thursday – the traditional day when Christians have celebrated and reflected upon Jesus’ ascent into heaven. In the 16th Century anonymous German painting here, it is almost a little comical how the apostles are watching His feet disappear into the clouds. If you’re tempted to think that it is a downer that He is gone, remember that Jesus Himself said it was a good thing. It was necessary for Him to depart so that He might pour out His Spirit on the Church. He even told the apostles that it would be beneficial to them for Him to depart. The Lord’s departure from this world, and His arrival in heaven, is part of the outpouring of the Spirit – a reality that is well-worth some reflection today. But there is another reason to be thankful on this Ascension Day…
What’s he doing up there? Almost everybody knows what Jesus did while He walked this world. He proclaimed the arrival of the Kingdom, He taught about the Father, He taught about Himself and the Spirit, He healed the sick, He performed signs and miracles, He shattered religious self-righteousness, He loved sinners and outsiders, He suffered and died in the place of sinners, and He rose again. All that happened about 2,000 yrs ago. We don’t want to be the ‘what-have-you-done-for-me-lately’ types but the question remains – what is He doing now? He ascended into heaven, what is He doing there today – this very moment? The answer is wonderful and simple – He is praying for us.
He is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. Hebrews 7:25-26 ESV
Who is He who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Romans 8:34 NKJV
Intercession is just fancy Bible/Theology talk for the fact that He’s praying…for you! That is a powerful thought and a wonderful truth. Jesus is praying for you to come to Him, for help to repent, for more love for God, for more of His Spirit, for your life and sins and future and all your good works in His name. He loves you so much and has not forgotten you. Whatever day you’ve had, full of guilt or full of joy, whether tempted or empowered – Jesus is praying for you today. And not just on Ascension Thursday either…every day.