Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!
Today we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord. This is the last Sunday in the Easter season. What happened after the Resurrection of the Lord? According to St. Luke, "After he had suffered, he appeared alive with many undoubted proofs, appearing to them for forty days, and speaking to them of the kingdom of God .... And having said these things, as they watched, he was lifted up; And a cloud received him and took him from their eyes. "
We confess three points in the second article of the Apostolic Creed. We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who;
1. Was conceived by the work of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary. This is the Incarnation, the Word was made to dwell among us. We celebrate the Incarnation in the Christmas season.
2. He suffered under the power of Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; He descended into hell; On the third day He rose from the dead. We remember the passion and death of Jesus Christ during Holy Week and His glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday.
3. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty: and from thence He will come to judge the living and the dead. Let us now turn to this third point.
With His Ascension the Lord finished His mission in this world. According to the tradition of the church, the celebration of the Ascension is always 40 days after the Sunday of the Resurrection, so it must be Thursday. But we did not have this Thursday as a day off, or maybe the whole week as with the celebration of Christmas or Easter. In some countries, Ascension Thursday is a day off, but not here. Therefore, we celebrate this important date this Sunday.
No matter that the world has almost forgotten the Ascension, it is important for us to remember it, because we find the promises of the Lord in this event. Jesus prophesied His death and resurrection before they occurred, but the disciples did not understand the necessity of His suffering for His victory in the resurrection. Also the Lord told them that after the resurrection, He would return to the Father, but they also did not understand why He could not stay with them in a visible form. "Then they that were gathered asked him, saying, Lord, wilt thou restore the kingdom to Israel at this time?" They thought, He was ready to defeat the Romans and reign from a throne in Jerusalem.
All the kingdoms of this world rise and fall, but the kingdom of God will last forever. For the Descendant of David to reign forever, as God promised, He had to ascend to the throne of God. With His birth in Bethlehem began the humiliation of the Son of God, when He left his throne to live among us and to fulfill the Law of God in our places. He also suffered the punishment of our sins on the cross. Death was the last stage of His humiliation and victory at the same time. Then in the resurrection Jesus was exalted, but the exaltation was not complete until His return to the Father in His human nature exalted by His divine nature.
Because of the resurrection of Christ, we have the promise that we will one day also be resurrected. And, because of the Ascension, we have the promise that one day we will be caught up in the clouds to receive the Lord in the air, and thus we will always be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17). In addition, we have the promise of the second coming of the Lord. "And when he was with his eyes set in heaven, while he was going, behold, two men stood by them in white garments; Who also said to them, Men of Galilee, what are you looking at in the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken up from you in heaven above, will come as you have seen him go to heaven. "
Today another promise. Jesus told them before his ascension: "It is not for you to know the times to the seasons that the Father placed in his own power; But you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit who will come upon you; And ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth. "
Next Sunday we will celebrate the day of Pentecost. Ten days after the Ascension, according to the Lord's promise, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church. After visible and audible manifestations of the presence of the Holy Spirit, St. Peter preached and three thousand people were baptized. That is, three thousand received the gift of faith by the power of the Holy Spirit in holy baptism. And every person we baptized today receives this same gift, because Christ should be raised up beside God the Father almighty to send the Holy Spirit to his church.
There are still more. Before His ascension, Christ told his disciples, "I am with you to the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20) and also promised them where there are two or three gathered in His name, He would be among them (Matthew 18:20). In what way is Jesus with us? In His body and blood in the sacrament. Because in His human body He ascended into the heavens, He is free from the limits of space and time, and His body and blood can be present among the faithful in many places at the same time. We remember Ascension as the culmination of Christ's mission in this world. Now His mission is the mission of the church. As a man in visible form, Jesus could only appear in one place at the same time. Because Christ is now among His church anywhere at any time, and the church has the guidance of the Holy Spirit, there are no limits to the proclamation of the gospel. In our Old Testament reading (2 Kings 2: 9-15), Elijah had to leave this world for his disciple, Elisha, to receive the Spirit, so Christ should come out of this world to send the Holy Spirit and deliver his mission to church. In this, we have faith and hope and peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.
Send Pastor David Ernst an email.