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.
“… sit with him in the heavenly places …” (v. 6) RSV
Keep looking down! What a strange thing to tell a Christian to do. But it all depends where you are when the instruction is given. St Paul tells us that we have been “raised up” (v.6), or ascended with Christ Jesus, and now sit with him in God’s presence. So we now look down on earth and adopt God’s view on life.
No longer are we a worm slithering between the grasses and no longer are we unable to see beyond the next obstacle. We have risen up and we can now get the overall picture. Our whole perspective on life is transformed. We enjoy the big picture.
Now we are able to understand God’s long-term strategy, and above all we understand that all things will one day be put right. We no longer need to look up to God, earnestly hoping that he will come down and help, for we are now in the presence of God and are able to have fellowship with him. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places (v.6). The privileges of Christ Jesus are our privileges. Incredible! He earned it through his life of love and obedience. We receive it as an unmerited gift.
Our faith and confidence will grow as we realise all that we receive in Christ. We are limited by our ignorance. Faith grows through hearing the truth, and the truth will set us increasingly free. We are “seated with Christ Jesus” (v.6); let its full import seep into your mind.
My Lord and my God, forgive me that I have understood so little of all you have achieved. Increase my faith and my boldness. Amen.
“… but if I go, I will send him to you.” (v. 7) RSV
The departure of Jesus was like any two-sided coin. On the one hand it was loss and grief to his disciples, but on the other hand it was gain and expectation for them. Jesus said that unless he left them they could not receive the Holy Spirit whom he would send to them.
His ascension and return to heaven meant that the Holy Spirit could come in all his fullness bringing all the benefits of the crucified, risen and exalted Christ. Believers would from then on be filled with the very life of the Christ.
So Jesus told his bewildered disciples: “It is to your advantage that I go away …” (v.7). The ascension of Jesus ushered in the new age of the Spirit. His people would receive “power” (Acts 1:8) to be witnesses. They would be bold, and therefore “prepared to give a reason” for the hope within them (1 Peter 3:15). How often has the church been spiritless? She has been so inconspicuous that you’d think Christ commanded his followers to ‘Go out into all the world, shut up and keep your heads down!’
Jesus was anointed (Christ-ed) for his ministry, and we too need to be anointed for ours. He told his disciples to wait after his ascension for the arrival of the Holy Spirit. We too need to be aware that this great Gift is the heritage of all who follow Christ.
Thank you Lord that you change my mourning into dancing, that you send the joy and power of your Spirit into my life and the life of the church. Amen.
Jesus ascended into heaven to be there to welcome us. He has prepared a place for us. He will come again when we die to receive us so that we may be where he is.
Some of us find it extremely difficult to go to a party where we know no one, indeed where we discover we are not even invited. But when we die the reception will be warm. We will be expected and recognised. The Host himself will greet us with God’s beaming smile.
This “place” (v.2) is described variously. In this passage the image of a Mansion is used – plenty of space and hospitality. Elsewhere it is described as a “new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) suggesting an environment of nature and animals. Again, the image of a “City” is used (Revelation 21:10) indicating many people.
Not only has our Lord prepared a place for us, but he also will come again to take us to be with him (v. 3). When we die we will not be lost, wandering and wondering how to get there. He is the Way (v.6) and will show us the way.
St Paul explains: “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives” (Ephesians 4:8). Our Lord will save us from “this body of death” (Romans 7:24); our captivity to sin will be ended, and in the twinkling of an eye” (1 Corinthians 15:22) we shall be changed. Hallelujah, what a saviour!
Thank you that heaven is big enough to include me, and broad enough to include all sorts. Amen.