Our Ascended High Priest and His Blessing (An Ascension Day Sermon on Luke 24:50-53)
When our son was about 3 or 4 months old, he was easily amused. We lived in a small basement suite in Hamilton and he had his crib in a very tiny room with a sliding door. One day, he was lying in his crib and I came past the room rather suddenly and he just started giggling uncontrollably. This caught my attention because I’d never heard a baby giggle like that before. After he calmed down, I backed up a few steps and tried it again. Same thing. Then I tried it with some added expression; I threw in a “Boo!” Well, that just about made him bust a gut. Not only was it endlessly amusing to him, Rose and I also found it incredibly delightful. I still get tears of joy when I think back to it.
But what does that have to do with the Ascension? Well, why did our son find peek-a-boo so amusing? It has to do with something called object permanence. Up until a certain age, if babies can’t see something, it doesn’t exist. Our son found it so amusing because to his little mind, I was a magician. I could make myself disappear, I was the incredible existing/non-existing Dad. I’m sure some of you have had similar experiences with your kids. At a certain age, kids develop object permanence and then peek-a-boo isn’t amusing anymore. But before then, if they can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.
Sometimes we’re that way when it comes to our Saviour Jesus Christ. He has ascended up into heaven. He is no longer on earth where we can see him and touch him. Does that mean that he has vanished from existence? No, Scripture tells us that he has a human body and soul in heaven at God’s right hand. He has a beating heart, blood that flows through veins and arteries, lungs that inflate and deflate with every breath, eyes that blink, a brain with neurons that fire. But we can’t see all this with our own eyes and so we sometimes have a difficult time with its reality. We tend to think of Christ being at God’s right hand as an abstract theological truth, rather than a physical reality. Sometimes we have a problem with object permanence.
Here is where we have to learn to believe and trust the Word of our Father. He assures us that his Son Jesus has not simply vanished into non-existence with his ascension. With our text, God comforts us with the truth that Christ has ascended into heaven and this is for our benefit. With this passage from Luke, we discover that our ascended High Priest continually blesses his church. We’ll see that he does this by:
- Reminding us of his atonement
- Reassuring us of his presence
- Revitalizing us to his praise