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“Christ Ascended on High,” Luke 24:44-53

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44 Then He said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” 45 And He opened their understanding, that they JesusAscension3might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 “And you are witnesses of these things.

49 “Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem1 until you are endued with power from on high.”

50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51 Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. 52 And they worshiped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, 53 and were continually in the temple praising and blessing God. Amen. (ESV)

In the Name of the ascended Jesus. Amen.

In the second article of the Apostles’ Creed, we individually, yet collectively, confess, “I believe” that Jesus “ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty” (2nd Article, Apostles’ Creed).

Though we don’t see Jesus, we are certain of His presence, even His true presence, because of His promise, because of His Word.

Even as the disciples no longer saw Jesus bodily when, “He was parted from them and carried up into heaven,” so you, like them since then, are bound to His Word and the hearing of it, not to your sight (Acts 1:10).

This is where the Lord directs you: not to the heavens, not to anywhere or everywhere, but to that through which He makes Himself known, His efficacious Word, that same Word which says what it does and does what it says.

By the grace of God, you have come to know that God’s Word and promise do not fail.

By His grace, you have come to know that He is the sure foundation of your hope.

Though you do not see Christ Jesus with your eyes, God gives confidence of His favor and mercy through the preaching of Christ’s Name and the giving of His gifts in Word and Sacraments.

Reason here directs differently.

Reason would say that what you cannot see cannot be, that unless you see it for yourself, it cannot be true.

But where God speaks, such is true because God declares it.

God’s Word is surer than sight.  Jesus is more certain than what you see.

If Jesus had not ascended into heaven, you would not have such faith.

If Jesus had not ascended into heaven, Christ would not have sent the Holy Spirit on that Day of Pentecost.

It is through the Holy Spirit that God gives faith, for it is the Holy Spirit that gives faith through the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached and proclaimed, even as St. Paul says, “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 1:17).

He also says that, “The righteousness of faith speaks in this way, ‘Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’  (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach)’” (Romans 10:6-8).

It is by the Word of faith preached that you believe and continue to do so, in Him whom you do not see but believe in your hearts according to His Word.

Christ has indeed ascended into heaven.  But He has not left you.

Though you can’t see Him, God gives you His grace and mercy through faith in His Son, according to His Word.

His Word and promise are your sure and certain hope that Christ, sitting at the right hand of God the Father since His ascension into heaven, has not left you or forsaken you.

Because Jesus has ascended, He is with you just where He promises to be, your Savior.

Because Christ has ascended into heaven, you know that as High Priest, “He always lives to make intercession for” you who come to God the Father through Him (Hebrews 7:25).

Christ’s intercessions for you do not go unheard.

The Father certainly hears Him.

Jesus is His Son, with whom He is well pleased (Luke 3:22; Matthew 17:5).

Christ continually pleads your case before the heavenly Father.

Your sins do not inhibit Christ’s petitions on your behalf to the Father.

Your petitions and prayers, therefore, also of the Our Father, the Lord’s Prayer, do not go unheeded, because of Christ.

His Name is hallowed.

His kingdom comes.

His will is done.

He gives you your daily bread.

He forgives your trespasses.

He leads you not into temptation.

He delivers you from evil.

Speaking of the Ascension, St. Paul quotes Psalm 68:18, where the Psalmist says of Christ, “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive” (Ephesians 4:8).

Sin and death, to which you were bound and imprisoned, are now bound and imprisoned, Christ’s captives.

Jesus truly did conquer death and the grave through His death and resurrection.

In His ascension, Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords.

So does St. Paul speak about, “The exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:19-22).

Christ is king over sin.  He is Lord over death.  He is Lord over all.

Because of Him, sin no longer has dominion over you.

You “are not under the law, but under God’s grace” (Romans 6:14).

Having been baptized with water and the Word, you have been baptized into Christ’s death.

Being baptized into Christ’s death means, “That just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).

Christ is your King, not sin and not death.  The resurrection of our Lord testifies to this.

Therefore, do you live unto Him who saves and delivers you from the kingdom of death and brings you into His kingdom of life.

Christ’s ascension testifies that sin and death are not Lord and master over Christ.  Rather is Christ Lord and master over sin and death.

Death no longer has the final word.  Jesus does.

When sin and death come knocking on your door and desire you, with complete boldness and confidence you can tell them, ‘Go away.  I am another’s servant and slave.  Christ is mine and I am His.  He is your Lord and master.  You do not rule for eternity.  Christ does.  Though you might rant and rave against me and claim me for your own, Christ has purchased me with His own precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death.  I am His.  You can accuse me all that you want.  But Christ’s word stands over yours.  Though I feel you breathing on my neck, still I am Christ’s and He is mine.  I have been baptized. You cannot hurt me, for Christ reigns forever.  He sits at God’s right Hand.  You are subject to Him.  You are under His feet and cannot eternally harm me.  For a time, you might cause trouble, but not for eternity.’

Faith in Christ Jesus has just this kind of confidence.  It rests not on its own strength or merit, but on Christ alone, on Him who died your death, rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God.

In Christ Jesus, you have eternal comfort and everlasting consolation of God’s grace and mercy.

When you fall into sin and temptation, despair not.

Christ is your salvation.

He has led captivity captive.

Jesus has put death to death.  He Himself has bondaged sin.

Though Christ has ascended into heaven, do not gaze to the heavens as the disciples had done until told by the angels that the same One who ascended will so come again in like manner (Acts 1:11).

Do not look for Jesus where He does not promise to be.

Continue to go to where He promises to be, for you.

There, you will find Him.

There will He be.

He is in His Word and Sacrament, there giving life and salvation for all who believe.

Until our Lord returns for all to see, wait upon Him.

Have faith in His promises.

Believe His Word.

Partake of His sacred meal.

Trust all that He says.

Just as He is risen, so will He return His Word is sure.  He is faithful and true.

Sitting at the Right hand of God the Father, the full authority of Jesus will one day be displayed for all to see (Matthew 25:32-33).

Every eye will see Him and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord (Philippians 2:11).

Until that time, you have His Word.

His people have confidence in this, and rejoice in what He now says and promises, and rejoice for what is to come. Amen.

 

PrayingHands&CrossAlmighty God, as Your only-begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, ascended into the heavens, so may we also ascend in heart and mind and continually dwell there with Him, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen. (Collect of the day for The Ascension of our Lord)

 

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