More / Book of the Month / Ascension - Looking into Earth /Acts 1.1-11; Luke 24.44-53; Ephesians 1:15-23 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Thursday, May 13th 2021 / Ascension Day/ Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

Ascension - Looking into Earth /Acts 1.1-11; Luke 24.44-53; Ephesians 1:15-23 / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Thursday, May 13th 2021 / Ascension Day/ Prince of Peace Lutheran Church




Ascension - Looking into Earth /Acts 1.1-11; Luke 24.44-53; Ephesians 1:15-23  / Pr. Lucas Andre Albrecht / Thursday, May 13th 2021 / Ascension Day/ Prince of Peace Lutheran Church

 

Text: Acts 1.1-11; Luke 24.44-53; Ephesians 1:15-23          
Theme: “Ascension - Looking into Earth”

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Intr – One of the questions that might occur to some on this day would be: why is Ascension a special date in the Church Calendar? Of course, it’s a fact, the one that caps off Jesus’ Ministry on Earth. But you know, He was lifted up and that’s it. Is there any special meaning why it should be celebrated, even marked with a special Service? We don’t do that with Jesus’ Sermon of the Mountain’ “Sermon of the Mountain Day”. Or we don’t have a “Cleanse the Temple with a Whip Service” even though that was an important milestone in Jesus’ ministry too. Why Ascension?

        That is a good question, and it needs a good answer. Let’s together reflect about it.

1 – The Date
        First of all, it's importante to remember that Ascension was a very important date early on the Church in terms of its celebration. In the times of Augustine it was celebrated in Jerusalem with a peregrination to the Mount of Olives. The English Historian Bede reports that it had the same status as the Easter celebrations, and many congregations would hold an outdoor Service on Ascension Thursday.[1]

2 – Importance
        It is the closing of Jesus’ Earthly ministry. It is the confirmation that Jesus entire work of salvation, his coronation as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. “Christ's ascension is the withdrawal of his visible presence on earth. This does not mean that he is no longer here. Now Jesus is everywhere as God and man. So we are sure that, according to the words of the institution of the holy supper, he is truly present at the holy supper and we receive with, in and under the bread the true body of Christ and with, in and under the wine the true blood of Christ. For in saying, "And, behold, I am with you every day until the end of the age" (Matthew 28:20), he is saying that he will be, like God and man, with his disciples. Christ, as God and man, governs and exercises his offices as a prophet, high priest and king.”[2]

3 – References
        We can find references to the Ascension in the Old Testament. For example, Psalm 68 and 110; Isaiah 53.11-12. We find it many times in the four Gospels. And I want highlight the references in the epistles, especially today’s pericope, Ephesians chapter 1: “and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
      These words of St. Paul here are closely connected to our Lord's Ascension “Paul's words are words of hope for Christian people. His words are words about the church. And about the One who is the head of the church into eternity. These words bring to mind the Sacraments – Baptism and the Lord's Supper – means of grace – God's delivery system bringing his good gifts to our address for our benefit.”[3] “The Christian church definitely had a special place in Paul's heart. He cared about God's people. He cared about their salvation. He wanted them to know Christ and come to trust Him. And then he wanted them to live out their faith day by day. He wanted them to maintain that faith and let it be strengthened by God's word and the sacraments. Paul knew what strengthens faith. And he also knew what weakens or destroys it. So, we hear words from him like these – found in 2 Corinthians 4:3-4: “And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).” “Leaders in the early church didn't hesitate to warn God's people about threats to their faith. Christians were warned that they would be persecuted. They were warned about false teachers. They were warned about idolatry – letting other things or people take the place of God in our lives. In addition Christians were warned about the evil one. Satan.”[4]

4 – Effects of Jesus’ Ascension
           How does Ascension Connect to our Christian and practical life, our life with Christ under the Cross? Here are some results of it:[5]

Victory - As a substitute for all mankind, Jesus paid the price for sins and overcame our enemies, sin, death and Satan. Christ ascended into Heaven to take possession of his Kingdom.[6]  
The Church - This victory made the New Testament church possible. Victorious, Jesus commanded: "Go and make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28.19), and promised: "Wherever two or three are gathered in my name, I will be there among them" (Mt 18.20).
Dignity - The ascension of Jesus, as a human person, dignifies the human being. He is our brother in the flesh. While some spiritual teachings despise matter, Christ dignifies it.[7]
New life purpose - Christ's ascension gives the faithful a new life purpose. “For where your treasure is, there your heart will also be” (Matthew 6.21 RA).[8]
The Holy Spirit and gifts - Jesus promised and sent his Holy Spirit according to the prophecy of Joel 3.1-4.[9] What Jesus promised, he fulfilled. The Holy Spirit was sent on the day of Pentecost. He is our guide and Comforter. He gives gifts to men and makes them fit for all work in the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit works until now.
Intercession - Jesus intercedes for us as our high priest. “My little children, these things I write to you so that you do not sin. If, however, someone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the Just ”(1 John 2:1).
He governs - Jesus governs powerfully as king. In the realm of power, he rules with irresistible power over all things in favor of his church. In the kingdom of grace, he rules with grace over his faithful, forgiving sins abundantly and daily to his faithful. But his church, while here on earth, is still in humiliation, in struggles and weaknesses, exposed to suffering and persecution (Heb 11). In the kingdom of glory, he crowns the faithful with heavenly glory for all eternity.[10]
Glory - We wait for the moment in which we will enter the eternal glory. We already know this glory from the Teaching of the Word and we have faith in it. Soon, when Jesus calls us or if we are privileged to see his return in life, we will move from believing to seeing him.
Being Faithful - But while we await the manifestation of his glory, from seeing to believing, we want to be faithful[11] and abundant in all the Lord's work[12], in order to proclaim his Word, for the building up of the church while the time of Grace lasts.

5 – Looking into the Earth
         Back to Ascension Day, at the Mountain top, we hear the two men in white robes asking the disciple: “Why do you stand looking into heaven?” And the next thing Luke reports after their remarks: “Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet”.[13]
         They got the message. Our Christian life is not one of looking into heaven. We are not called to be outside of this world, to a mountaintop where we look into Heaven only longing for the returning of our blessed Lord. He Himself doesn’t allow the disciples to go that way. Those white robbed men sent them back to Earth. And, as Jesus told them, they should await for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, after what they’ve started to work on the Great Commission they were given by Jesus.
        In other Words, they were discouraged to stand looking into heaven and were sent to look into the Earth.
        And, what should they go into the Earth with? Jesus had already let them know, as we see in the Gospel (Luke 24). They don’t need to create a new doctrine, invent new dogmas our come up with their own interpretation of everything that happened in the last 3 years. Jesus opened their minds to understand everything that was written about Him in the Old Testament. Soon the Church would have also the new Testament as the Word of Good to provide content and to proclaim Good News.
        What they needed to do was not to look into heaven, but to point to Heaven.
        This is what Ascension Day invites us to do as well. This is the importance of marking of this date, for all that was already said, and because we want to keep looking down to Earth to bring Christ’s Work to people, so that we may point them to Christ, and through Him, point them to Heaven. Point them to the Forgiveness of Sins, to the Grace, to the deliverance from Satan and Hell into the safe arms of the Father.

Cc – Ascension Day, a very special date for the Christian Church. For the Christian faith. For Christians. Our King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Jesus Christ, points our eyes to the Earth, where our mission field is. So that, by doing so, many eyes may be pointed to Heaven, and from there join us in the same expectation of the Coming of our Saviour, in Glory. On that day, we will stop looking into and pointing to Heaven, and we will start living into it.

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[1]Kuchenbecker, Horst.  A Ascensão de Jesus Cristo ao Céu e o significado para nós seus seguidores. Sao Leopoldo, 1999, page 1. Translation by Lucas Albrecht.
[2]Kuchenbecker, Horst.  A Ascensão de Jesus Cristo ao Céu e o significado para nós seus seguidores. Sao Leopoldo, 1999, page 6. Translation by Lucas Albrecht.
[3] Brum, Paulo C.F. “Ascension Day”. Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter. May 24th, 2020. page 2
[4] Brum, Paulo C.F. “Ascension Day”. Sermon for the Seventh Sunday of Easter. May 24th, 2020. page 2
[5] The following topics are from: Kuchenbecker, Horst.  A Ascensão de Jesus Cristo ao Céu e o significado para nós seus seguidores. Sao Leopoldo, 1999, page 9-10. Translated by Lucas Albrecht.
[6] (Mt 28.18; Ephesians 4.8; Psalms 68.19; Colossians 2.15.
[7]  (John 17.3; John 17.22 ; John 17:24; John 14: 2, 3; John 12:26.
[8] That is why the apostle Paul recommends: “Therefore, if you were raised together with Christ, seek things from above, where Christ lives, seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3.1).
[9] He promised: “But I tell you the truth: you should go, because if I do not go, the Comforter will not come for you; if, however, I go, I will send it to you ”(John 16.7). He promised gifts to men. “He who descended is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, to fill all things. And he himself gave some for apostles, others for prophets, others for evangelists and others for pastors and teachers, with a view to perfecting the saints for the performance of their service, for the building up of the body of Christ ”(Ephesians 4: 10-12).
[10]  “Jesus, approaching, spoke to them, saying: All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28.18 RA). “Through many tribulations, it is important for us to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22 RA). “The Lord will also deliver me from all evil work and will take me saved to his heavenly kingdom. To him, glory for ever and ever. Amen!" (2 Timothy 4.18 RA)
[11] Rev. 2:10
[12] 1 Cor. 15.58
[13] Acts 1:12.

 

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