Look Up!

Heidelberg Catechism: Question 49: How does Christ’s ascension to heaven benefit us?

Answer: First, He pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of His Father. Second, we have our own flesh in heaven - a guarantee that Christ our head will take us, His members, to Himself in heaven. Third, He sends His Spirit to us on earth as a further guarantee. By the Spirit’s power we make the goal of our lives, not earthly things, but the things above where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand.

 

Observations: Again the catechism is interested in why Jesus ascended into heaven? The fact that Jesus bodily returned to heaven to sit at God’s right hand has great benefit for us. Firstly, Jesus ‘pleads our cause in heaven in the presence of His Father.’ The Bible talks about Jesus being our ‘Mediator’ who ‘intercedes’ on our behalf (1 Tim 2:5; Rom 8:34; 1 Jn 2:1). While our sins deserve death, Jesus acts on behalf of those who trust him. Secondly, because Jesus is now in heaven we are reminded that he ‘will take us, His members, to Himself in heaven.’ Jesus promised, ‘I will come back and take you to be with me. (Jn 14:3)’ Just as Jesus ascended into heaven we await the day that he will return and we will ascend with him to heaven also. Thirdly, Jesus ‘sends His Spirit to us.’ Jesus says, ‘It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (Jn 16:7)’ According to the catechism ‘by the Spirit’s power we make the goal of our lives, not earthly things, but the things above. (Col 3:1-4)’ Because Jesus sent the Spirit we are able to live the new life we have in Christ. Also the Spirit acts as a guarantee that we have been saved and that we will receive eternal life (see Q&A 53).

 

Application: When Jesus ascended into heaven his disciples remained looking up into the sky. While we are busy living for Jesus and spreading the gospel, in a sense we also look up to where Jesus is. We look up knowing that Jesus is at God’s right hand interceding on our behalf. We look up knowing that one day he will return and take us home. We look up in gratitude for the Holy Spirit who is Christ’s presence with us in life. I encourage you to look up in prayer and thank Jesus not only for everything he has done for you in his life on this earth, but also for what he is doing for you right now at the right hand of God the Father, and through His Spirit within us.

 

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for You Son Jesus, who not only died for my sins on  the cross, who not only rose from the dead defeating sin and death, but who also returned to heaven to intercede on my behalf and will return to take me home. Lord, I also thank You for the Holy Spirit who is Christ’s presence with me. Thank You that Jesus not only did everything I need, but that He also gives me all that I need. He is worthy of all praise, honour and glory, and I desire to make the goal of my life to be like Him. In His name I pray. Amen.

 

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