“He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe” (Ephesians 4:10).
Have you ever tried to play peekaboo with a newborn? Babies under four months haven’t yet developed a sense of “object permanence.” If you hide your face behind a blanket, a newborn will think you’ve disappeared. He won’t reach for the blanket to uncover you. He won’t stare at the blanket expectantly, waiting for you to pop out. As far as the baby is concerned, you are gone. His gaze will wander to other things.
Our Savior isn’t gone
Christians are often like newborns when it comes to Jesus’ ascension. Because we can’t see Jesus, we act as if he’s gone. Our attention wanders away from our Savior. We drool over the things of the world. When challenges arise, we wail and flail around because we simply can’t see Jesus in our trials. We wonder if he is really present, really in-the-know, really able to help. We think how much easier life would be if we could just see and touch our Savior.
So it might surprise you that when the disciples watched Jesus rise into the sky and disappear behind a cloud, they didn’t slump home with tear-streaked faces, like kids who have just watched their grandparents drive away or like a baby whose parent was suddenly swallowed up by a blanket. Instead, the disciples returned to Jerusalem with “great joy” (Luke 24:52). Why joy? Because even though they couldn’t see Jesus, they knew he was still with them. Jesus’ ascension wasn’t his retirement but his coronation.
We don’t have to be babies about our Savior’s ascension either. Our Savior may be concealed, but he’s not gone! As the glorified God-man, Jesus fills the universe—he is everywhere at once (Ephesians 4:10). He isn’t sitting poolside in heaven while we slog it out on our lonesome down here. Rather, he is guiding and controlling world events so that they will work out for our eternal good.
Our Savior still rules
“But,” you wonder, “how can I be sure that the ascended Jesus cares about me personally?” Look at the Ephesians passage again. There the apostle Paul reminds you that the one who ascended into heaven, first descended to this sin-filled world—for you. The Son of God loved you so much that he left his glorious throne in heaven and got on human hands and knees to look for you. His love is not just powerful, but it is also personal.
Knowing the sacrifice Jesus made for our souls, we needn’t hesitate to put every concern into his hands. The ascended Jesus even rules over death. In fact, he overrules death! Although the doctor may announce that there is no hope for survival, King Jesus has already given us a second opinion. Through faith in him we will survive terminal cancer or a fatal car accident. We won’t just survive, we’ll thrive. Through death, we will enter heaven. We’ll see Jesus in all of his glory. We will be glorified.
So let’s stop being babies about Jesus’ ascension. He may be concealed, but he’s not gone. He’s still with us—guiding our footsteps home to heaven.
Author: Daniel J. Habben
Volume 103, Number 5
Issue: May 2016