"And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven”
Jesus rose from the dead not to return to the earth but to enter into heaven itself and to appear in the presence of God for us. Jesus is a priest. That’s what the Bible says. And priests provide access to God. That is why he provided the perfect sacrifice for your sins on Calvary. For this heavenly priest was the sacrifice itself. He provides the better blood than Abel. He lays down on the altar that Isaac escapes from. He provides the Red Sea of forgiving blood that cleanses you from all sin – which drowns away the demons and pharoah’s hellish hoards – and allows you to follow him on dry ground to where He is going – to the Promised Land – communion with Father – Son – and Holy Ghost.
You have been saved not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood he entered the Most Holy Place, once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. This is why on Good Friday the temple curtain was ripped in two that we might approach His throne of grace. He unites Himself to us on earth as it is in heaven.
But before his glorious ascent to heaven he descended to hell to preach to the spirits in prison – to proclaim liberty to the captives so that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and of those under the earth.”
As we celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord tonight we must remember that sin and wickedness did not really begin with Adam and Eve. Disruption and alienation from God did not begin on earth but rather in heaven where Satan and his demons rebelled against the God of love. They were cast down and encouraged men to rebel against God. And ever since wicked men have desired communion with demons rather than communion with God.
But tonight everything is different because heaven and earth, once defiled by demons and men, are now purified and restored to majestic glory. By Christ’s ascension, our Lord of power and might has cleansed the heavenly tabernacle that was once infected with demonic rebellion. The accuser has been cast out. And heaven has been restored and purified by the blood of the Lamb. Heaven has been hallowed and He reigns upon His throne - victorious.
And the temples of your bodies too are raised and ascended to new life. No longer will you commune with demons but you commune with the God of love – with Father and Son. You are a temple of the Holy Spirit. An indwelling of God’s presence and heavenly things. You see Jesus left His throne in heaven to become a son of man that we sons of men might become sons of God.
Holy Scripture does not say that the risen and ascended Christ is confined up in heaven. Instead, Christ fills everything. Christ was not received by the heavens but rather He received heaven, having
ascended far above the heavens where He sits “at the right hand of God.” All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him.
He has not removed himself from his church. Instead, He is God and Man, extending his grace, help, and protection in all places – especially Wittenberg, Wisconsin. As Aaron wrote on his breastplate the name of the tribes of Israel when he entered the Holy of Holies, so now Christ, appearing as the true High Priest before God in heaven, wears the names of all believers on His heart. Therefore hell cannot overpower you, death cannot have you. Your name is written in the book of Life. And the gates of heaven are flung wide open. Death’s cruel jaws have been shut.
Paul writes in Ephesians chapter two that God has “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus.” For Jesus did not rise form the dead for himself. He rose for you. His resurrection is your resurrection. His Ascension to the Father’s right hand is your ascension.
By Jesus ascension into heaven, Christ makes heavenly blessings available for us on earth. This is to say that Christ’s ascension provides an entrance for us. We too, have access to the throne. Even tonight, in and through his blood, there is a better hope, by which we draw near to God.” And we sing, with angels, and archangels and with all the company of heaven. Singing, Holy holy holy Lord God of Sabaoth. heaven and Earth are full of your glory.
In the name of Jesus. Amen.