Ascension of Christ
Bibliography: B. K. Donne, Christ Ascended, 1983; Peter Toon, The Ascension of Our Lord, 1984.——PT
Ascension (of Christ)
ASCENSION (OF CHRIST) (עָלָה, H6590, ἀναβάινω, go up; also ἀναλαμβάνεσθαι, to be taken up, ἐπαίρεσθαι, to be lifted up). The exaltation of Christ to the presence of the Father in glory after His Resurrection from the dead.
Anticipations in the OT and later Judaism.
During our Lord’s earthly ministry.
Description of the event in the gospels and Acts.
Further references in Acts.
The speeches in Acts reveal that the essence of the apostles’ preaching was that the same Jesus who went about doing good and mighty deeds, and who died in accordance with God’s plan, was raised from the dead (of which the apostles, and all in Jerusalem, are witnesses [
The letter to the Hebrews.
Other NT references.
The laws of nature.
It is argued that the picture of a body ascending contravenes the law of gravity. However, the real problem is that we know so little of the Lord’s resurrection body. It was different from the body laid in the tomb, yet essentially the same. Thus the resurrected Lord could be seen, touched, handled, recognized; He could eat and drink; yet He could also appear and disappear, enter a room when the doors were shut. There is no greater problem in the Ascension than in the Resurrection.
The localization of the spiritual world.
The account seems to suggest that heaven is located a short distance above the earth; modern science makes such a picture untenable. But surely this criticism takes the narrative in too literal a sense. The language is symbolic. We should pieture Christ as transferring, not from one position to another, but from one condition to another. As C. S. Lewis comments, “Perhaps mere instantaneous vanishing would make us feel more comfortable...But if the spectators say they saw first a short vertical movement and then a vague luminosity (that is what ‘cloud’ presumably means here as it certainly does in the account of the Transfiguration) and then nothing—have we any reason to object?” (Miracles p. 186). Perhaps the contemporary scientific mind would prefer to think, in Einsteinian terms, of matter transformed into enormous energy, but would this not also be but a symbol of a reality beyond adequate expression in terms from the physical universe?
The historical credibility.
Luke’s writing throughout is that of the careful historian, who verified his facts from original written sources, and from direct interrogation of eyewitnesses (
The significance of the Ascension.
The exaltation of Christ to the right hand of God meant for Him the clear demonstration of His victory (
For Christian believers.
W. Milligan, The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of our Lord (1891); W. J. Sparrow-Simpson, Our Lord’s Resurrection (1905), ch. 9; H. B. Swete, The Ascended Christ (1910); W. H. G. Thomas, “Ascension,” ISBE I (1929); K. Lake, “The Ascension,” The Beginnings of Christianity V (1933); C. S. Lewis, Miracles (1947), ch. 16; J. G. Davies, He Ascended Into Heaven (1958); M. L. Loane, Our Risen Lord (1965), ch. 9.