Long ago, our Father in Heaven had a plan. His plan was to create the world as a theater to display his glory. The world was to be a house that reflected his name. The Shekinah glory was to remain there forever. And through many dangers, toils, and snares, the house was little by little losing the purpose the builder had for it.
It would appear that God’s building project had become an abysmal failure. But God’s construction plans are not like our building projects. His ways are not our ways. He had a plan. He had a restoration project. He was going to restore, rebuild, and reclaim his own house. This time, the house was not going to be built on spiritual adultery or religious idolatry. It would be on the Rock, which is Christ. The builders rejected him, but the new humanity composed of men and women, and children united to the Rock, will no longer deny him.
In the life of Jesus, the foundation was poured on the earth. In his death, the wall and roof were placed to cover the world and give it shade. In his resurrection, fresh, clean water is available. Come and drink of the river that never runs dry. But there is one part of this earthly construction that is missing. There is a foundation, a roof to protect you from the storms, running water to shower and be replenished, but now we need to turn it on. We need electricity! We need the power to turn the refrigerator, stove, microwave, air conditioner, heater, fan, laptops, cell phones, etc. We need to activate the house so that everyone can live with a purpose. I propose that the Ascension of Jesus is that singular event in history that gives life to everything; that sets everything into motion. It is the electricity that the Church needs to disciple the nations.
Without the Ascension, we are living in an almost finished property. The Ascension means that the house/world is ready to be inhabited once and for all. The power is on. We can now move in together as a Church and take care of it. The workers can all go home. Our only task is now maintaining the house. Now, this house is the world. And the world is a big place. It needs to be energized by the Ascension. The Ascension is God’s way of saying: “My Son’s work is done! Now it’s your turn!”
And at this moment, we tend to despair, because the Ascension means Jesus is gone from us physically. How can we carry the work of maintaining and increasing the population of this house without our Leader and Master physically present? This is a good question, and it is why for all intents and purposes, the Ascension appears to be an incredibly bad strategy. After all, Jesus is the Stone. If he’s gone, won’t the house fall apart? Won’t it be corrupted with mold? Won’t the house begin to decay without its host? Is this beautiful house now left to our own skills to preserve and keep? I think not. Our Lord Jesus knew what he was doing. In John 16 he says, “It is good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you.” Now this seems abundantly clear.
The entire life of Jesus, from his descent in human flesh to his ascent in human flesh built the house. His Ascension served to electrify the world with this presence. But in a fascinating turn, Jesus sends the Third Person of the Trinity to continue his work to maintain and increase the knowledge of our Lord in this world.
The Ascension is Jesus’ final “It is finished” to his church. “Your house is built! I give it to you to care for and prosper and preserve its integrity. You are heirs of Abraham and heirs of the whole world” (Rom. 4:13). Now go and make that a reality. And to confirm that my purpose will prevail, and my intention for my house never fails, I am sending you my Spirit, who will guide you and care for you.
And here is a crucial point to understand about the Ascension of Jesus: Jesus’ upward movement to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father and the Spirit’s descent to earth to be at our right-hand means that heaven and earth are fully cared for. Did Jesus fail his work on earth as the Second Person of the Trinity? No. Will the Spirit fail his work on earth as the Third Person of the Trinity? No. Will the Father’s plan fail to accomplish its intended purpose on earth as it is in heaven? No. The Ascension is when the Trinity opens the champagne bottle of victory.
What appears to be a magical disappearance act by our Lord is actually the way Jesus is most present in our midst. Our Lord is not far, in fact, by his Spirit, he is nearer than ever.