Happy Ascension Day!

What? You didn’t know today was Ascension Day? Well, you’re in good company, for the vast majority of people in churches like ours missed it, too.

Ascension Day is the annual Christian holiday (“holy-day”) commemorating the time when, forty days after his resurrection, Jesus ascended into the heavens.

For many Christians this merely suggests that Jesus went back to heaven, and that someday he will return to take us there. Ho-hum. What's on TV tonight?

Boy, are we mistaken!

In the first place, Jesus didn’t just “go back to heaven.” He “ascended” to the throne at the right hand of his Father, having completed his task of re-uniting heaven and earth via his Incarnation (Christmas), his Crucifixion (Good Friday), and his Resurrection (Easter).

Jesus didn’t just “go away.” He didn’t say, in a voice eerily similar to the Terminator, “I’ll be back.” He ascended to his throne. He took his rightful place as ruler of heaven and earth. As Stephen, the first Christian martyr saw, Jesus is "standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55-56).

His work completed, Jesus’ ascension marked the beginning of his rule. As he said himself following his resurrection, “All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:19).

Recognizing this truth has huge practical implications for our day-to-day lives.

Regardless how it might appear to you when you watch the news, or when you struggle in your personal life, the good news of the Ascension is this: Jesus is the true King of the World. Jesus will have the last word.

We must never lose hope, no matter how desperate things appear to us. We must always be confident of this “that he who began a good work in [us, and our world] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

In the meantime, as Paul continues to exhort the believers in Philippi, we must “behave as citizens worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Phil. 1:27 in its literal translation). That means that, never forgetting our true citizenship (Phil 3:20), we must always live in a manner pleasing to Jesus, remembering that we owe our ultimate allegiance to him.

No matter what difficulties we face, we have the confident assurance that, just as Jesus ascended to his Father, someday he will return to this earth. And when he does, it will not be to snatch us away to a disembodied existence in heaven.

Nope. Not in the least.

When Jesus returns, we will live with him on the new earth he will make out of this one. And, perhaps best of all, on that day, he will “transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Phil 3:21).

Imagine that! Someday we will have bodies just like the one Jesus has. Bodies which are not prone to sin or to decay. Bodies which will “be like his glorious body.”

Our earth, too, will be renewed, and we will live – and reign! – with Jesus. Death will be no more. And he shall reign forever and ever. Hallelujah!

So, yeah, Ascension Day is a big deal. Definitely not ho-hum.

Nope. Not in the least.

And now, if you'll all please stand:

The kingdom of this world has become 
The kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ. 
And he shall reign forever and ever, 
King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.