These reflections help us look into the Bible to discover what God is saying to us today. We find Bible passages to read and questions to ponder. The themes are in the process of being listed in an index with each theme ultimately divided into seven sections. We hope to be completed soon.
“… he always lives to make intercession for them” (v. 25) RSV
At first Jesus sat in heaven having completed his work on earth, but he now ever stands in order to minister. His ministry on earth is over, but his ministry in heaven has just begun and it is primarily prayer. He prays for us.
Do you remember how he prayed for Peter that “his faith would not fail” (Luke 22:32)? Peter still went on to deny Jesus three times, but his faith did not fail, for he was able to repent and be restored. When Jesus intercedes for us it does not mean that we cannot fail or that everything will go smoothly. Prayer does not fully bring heaven on earth, but it does strengthen us to stand our ground and fight the good fight.
The intercessions of the risen Christ are not only praying for us to continue to the end, but are always presenting his wounds. That may sound odd, but the nail marks and the stripes that he received are tokens of his life poured out. His sacrificial love has bought for us forgiveness and new life. His presence in heaven before the Father is a continual reminder of the ever loving heart of God. Because of Jesus there is always a way back to God from the dark paths of sin.
An example of the intercessions and prayers of Jesus is seen in his ‘High Priestly’ prayer in John 17. There you will see that he prays for himself, for his apostles and for all who believe through their witness (i.e. you and me). We are not alone. He has not left us nor forsaken us. He is with us and he prays for us.
Thank you Lord for your loving concern and involvement in my life. May I also pray for others as you pray for me. Amen.
“Crown him with many crowns” are the words of a well known hymn. The King of kings has fulfilled his mission, ascended back into heaven and is now crowned. The exaltation moves Jesus on from the human version of God to the glorified Christ. He is no longer limited by his mortal frame, but has become the first-born of a new order of existence. He has been the trail blazer.
The letter to the Hebrews quotes Psalm 8:4-6 in order to express this coronation: “Thou didst make him for a little while lower than the angels, thou hast crowned him with glory and honour, putting everything in subjection under his feet.” (Hebrews 2:7-8). What a magnificent testimony to his unique life and achievement.
The followers of Jesus can rest assured that the kingdom of God has an ever-living and all powerful King sitting on the throne. They are on the winning side!
Paul also realised another benefit of this coronation. It was going to be available in some wonderful sense for all Christ’s people. He wrote to his protégé Timothy, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which … will be awarded to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy. 4:8). Thus, we too will reign with him when he comes in his kingdom. What a prospect! Be encouraged!
I rejoice that you Lord Jesus Christ have been glorified in the presence of your Father. Praise be! Amen.
There comes a time when the battle of life comes to an end; we are not condemned to be forever in this fallen world. Of course there are many good times, but as followers of Jesus we have many a fight against the world, the flesh and the devil. We will never come back in any sense re-incarnated. We will, for better or for worse, leave this world.
Jesus said that that was exactly what he was going to do: “I am no more in the world” (v.11). He had worked hard and made the ultimate sacrifice. On the Cross he had cried, “It is finished” (John 19:30). He had completed the work he had been given to do. He was free at last to enter his rest!
As it says, “He sat down at the right hand of the Father” (Hebrews 10:12). As we shall see, as these weeks roll by, he would thereafter often ‘stand’ in heaven to continue his work, but the first picture is of him seated – a work well done. He had accomplished all he came to do on earth.
One day we too will complete the race of life and enter our rest. Meantime we continue to work with all the strength God gives us. We battle against evil and we seek to be worthy witnesses of God’s saving love within us. There is much work to be done. “The days are evil, let us redeem the time” (Ephesians 5:16).
As Jesus said, “It is he who continues to the end who will be saved” (Matthew 10:22).
Help me, O Lord, to keep going to the end. For the joy set before me may I be strengthened today. Amen.
If you stand in a lift you can only go up or down, but if you’re going to heaven is it ‘up’? Famously, the first Russian astronauts did not find God up above the bright blue sky. Why? Because neither God nor heaven is geographically or spatially ‘up there’.
And yet when Jesus prayed it says he looked “up”, or, “lifted up his eyes to heaven” (John 17:1). So there is no doubt that spiritually speaking God is above us. But when Stephen was being stoned to death he gazed not so much up as “into heaven” (Acts 7:55) RSV.
That is why when Jesus bodily ascended to heaven it was not so much upwards and upwards, but upwards and inwards. His ascension was not a matter of levitation (though that could have been possible), for he was “lifted up” (v.9). The cloud of angels took him through the veil into the ‘heavenlies’.
This may still seem strange to us, though the resurrected body of Jesus seems in no way to have been limited to the restrictions of our mortal bodies. St Paul says that when Jesus returns at the end of time we too (who are alive) “will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air;” (1 Thessalonians 4:17).
The disappearance of the risen Christ in bodily form was an historic and visible act. It signified much of which we shall look at during the weeks that lie ahead.
Dear Lord, help me to learn much more of the meaning of your glorious ascension for me and your Church. Amen.
1 Who else ascended into heaven?
2 Kings 2:11-12
2 Read Luke’s simple description of Jesus’ departure