Part of the Christian proclamation of the Good News of Jesus’ Resurrection is the corresponding profession that “He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father”. The Ascension of Jesus finds its place in both the Apostles’ and the Nicene Creeds. In the Gospel of Luke it takes place on the fortieth day after the Resurrection and closes out the time of Resurrection appearance. It does not, however, bring to an end the work of Christ. Instead, it initiates what is sometimes called “the heavenly session”, the time in which Christ reigns above our earthly reality and appears for us in the presence of God.
Jesus is the representative man, “the last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45), the one who has taken our humanity into heaven. The Father has given him a place at his right hand, the post of honor, and in doing so he has honored our humanity and crowned it. Not for any merits of our own, of course, but solely for the merits of Christ, who in and through our humanity has raised us up to the heavenly places with him. Jesus reigns, and through him the faithful too will share an honored place in the Father’s kingdom.
Christ not only represents us in heaven, but is our intercessor as well. As the Letter to the Hebrews puts it, “He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25), an idea which the writer attaches to the priestly work that Christ Jesus performs in heaven. In this work Jesus is representative as well, appearing “in the presence of God on our behalf” (Heb. 9:24). In very similar language, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. (Rom. 8:33-34). Jesus’ Ascension points toward our own hope of heaven, and toward the reality of our adoption now as heirs of the promised Kingdom.
– Bishop John