The Victory Procession of the Ascension

Karl Barth writes concerning the Descent and Ascension of Jesus:
The earth rejoices at the Son of God having descended from heaven, but heaven is glad no less at the Son of Man having ascended from the earth. "He sits," it says, "at the right hand of the Father." This was necessary, beloved, in order that the flesh of man, which, when sin was in authority, had been captivated for a long time, might receive the freedom of living there whither sin could not penetrate (Church Dogmatics IV, ii, 143).
Gerrit Dawson, continues in the stream of Barth's thought:
As he [Jesus] ascends, creation is healed. The gulf between heaven and earth caused by human sin is bridged; the rift of our ancient wound is closed. The 'flesh of man' is able to go where it was always intended but had ever been prevented since the Fall - into the courts of heaven and the immediate presence of God. This is the foretaste of 'the glorious freedom of the children of God' in which the entire creation will be 'liberated from its bondage to decay' (Romans 8:21). The ascending, triumphant King is the firstfruit of the new creation. Such is the victory procession of the ascension....

The victory of Jesus, celebrated in the ascension, inaugurates his reign as the God-human enthroned at the right hand of the Father. This economy will continue until the entire creation in Christ Jesus, led by Christ Jesus, submits to the Father and the Triune God again fills all in all. The ascension, then, is the promise of a more complete victory. Our King has gone forth to his throne; he will come again in splendour. In this hope, the church has found its identity in the world, and the more the church has embraced the place of its ascended Lord, the more it has advanced his kingdom (Jesus Ascended, pp. 71-72).


Anonymous said…
When I read what is written these days about the ascension, I often get the feel that there is still a "remote Jesus off in heaven" notion present. But Jesus' ascension is now and present through belief in His name. As such, I think that it is important to connect the dots for today's believers. As Paul says:

Col 1:25-29--I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness--the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.(NIV)

The best to you always!

J. Richard Parker
Ted Johnston said…
Richard, your comment brings up an interesting line of thought concerning the continuing humanity of the God-man, Jesus Christ.

Is Jesus' continuing (and permanent) humanity to be thought of since the ascension as diffused throughout the cosmos (and thus omnipresent)? Or is Jesus-in-flesh to be thought of as continuing to be a localized-bodily, though now glorified person?

The orthodox doctrine of the ascension teaches that Jesus the glorified man continues fully his human life (now in a glorfied state). Yet, the eternal Son of God in his divinity is everywhere present and lives within us. This living within us necessarily takes us to the ministry of the Holy Spirit, for through the Spirit the Father and the Son make their home within us.

So we are to think of Jesus, who remains fully human, as localized in his humanity; but omnni-present in his divinity.

What then adds to the glory and mystery, is that by taking our humanity into himself, adding it to his divinity, Jesus having ascended to heaven has humanity seated there with him.Indeed, the human, now glorified Jesus, is our "place" in heaven (John 14:2).

It is the doctrine of the Trinity and of the continuing (permanent) incarnation of Jesus of which we speak, yet concerning which we stand, mouths agape, in silent and reverential awe.
Anonymous said…
Hi Ted!

You offer intriguing questions. In attempting to answer these questions, our minds struggle to find the words to express God’s great love for us given through Jesus Christ. As such, it is of note that Paul refers to this whole process as a “mystery” which springs from a Greek word meaning “to shut the mouth.” But the result is clear:

Eph 2:4-7--But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-- it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

It is also of note that the Holy Spirit reveals to us this reality when we fall into place with God’s commands. As John says:

I Jn 3:23-24--And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us. (NIV)

The revelation of Christ in us as it plays out individually for each of us is truly amazing. And this revelation then lets us see the only way (Jesus Christ) to deliver us from both the bondage of the carnal life and the bondage of the law.

The best to you always!

J. Richard Parker
Ted Johnston said…
Amen brother! And how comforting to know that Jesus, who assumed our humanity, continues to embrace and save us in and through his own person as the unique mediator who is forever fully God and, with us, fully human.