It’s Ascension Day today when Christians all over the world remember that forty days after Easter Jesus ascended into heaven. For Ascension, here is the first of four thoughts about what Jesus is doing now.
1. Jesus is Sitting.
On the day of Pentecost when Peter preached to the crowd who had seen the Holy Spirit poured out, and explained about the risen Jesus:
Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool” (Acts 2:33-35)
Now Peter knew the Old Testament Scriptures, and he was quoting from Psalm 110:1 “The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” He was declaring that the Psalm ultimately spoke of Jesus as the one who would sit in the best seat in heaven, the one at the right hand of the Father.
This is a theme that is taken up in the book of Hebrews which declares that “when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet.” (Hebrews 10:12-13)
The writer to the Hebrews seems to be saying that Jesus sat down because he had done everything that he needed to do. No further atoning work was necessary!
Understanding this can be a great encouragement to us. Christians are quite adept at funtionally forgetting that Jesus has done everything necessary for us to be made right with God. We easily drift into thinking that our standing with God depends on our own performance rather than on the basis of what Jesus has done. The consequence of that can be that some Christians live with a sense of uneasy guilt while others with an anxious sense of the need to wrest blessings from God.
The gospel however, declares that Jesus has done everything that was needed to restore our broken relationship with God. He has finished his work. He has sat down!
Because Jesus has sat down, we can take our sins and failures to the Father in the confidence that his grace is sufficient, and we can be confident of our loving heavenly Father’s goodness to us.
A little bit later in his letter, the writer to the Hebrews encourages his readers to look to Jesus for their encouragement in running the race of the Christian life.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God .” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
As we face discouragement and weariness in living the Christian life, we are to consider and remember that there is one who has already triumphantly finished the race, and for him it was a far tougher run than it will be for many of us. We are to remember that he kept going. He endured and now he has finished the race and has sat down.
So remember this Ascension day, Jesus has sat down. He endured. He finished the work he had to do. So trust in him, and keep going.