The Feast of the Ascension isn’t what it used to be. For one thing, the bishops have moved it from Thursday to Sunday. For another, it has become difficult for us to picture what happened when Christ was taken up.
In ancient times people imagined God’s heaven to be just above our mountaintops. Jacob saw angels making it there on a long ladder. Christians could image Jesus being taken up through the clouds to where ten miles up angels were waiting to carry him the rest of the way.
On a Sunday television show thirty years ago I watched Jacksonville’s First Baptist Church’s Homer Lindsey telling us that there was a planet out in space to which the body of the risen Lord was taken to rest. That doesn’t seem right to me.
In our Creed we Christians profess belief in the resurrection of our bodies as well as the body of Christ. But, we don’t believe that they will have new addresses on other planets out in space.
Paul, in First Corinthians, Fifteen, tells us we will have heavenly bodies. Let me quote five verses from that chapter.
40. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the brightness of the heavenly is one kind and that of the earthly another. 41 The brightness of the sun is one kind, the brightness of the moon another, and the brightness of the stars another. For star differs from star in brightness.
42. So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown corruptible; it is raised incorruptible. 43. It is sown dishonorable; it is raised glorious. It is sown week; it is raised powerful. 44. It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual one.
Christ’s ascension is of importance to us because in tells us that our human nature is worthy of sitting at God’s right hand.
With the Ascension the Bible story comes full circle. It began with God creating us in his image and likeness. It ends with our human nature enthroned above.