The Ascension of Christ
Following Christ’s resurrection, the next significant step in His redemptive ministry was His ascension. The ascension of Christ simply means His going back to heaven to the Father. This event was foretold by the Prophets, the Psalmist and Christ Himself (Psa. 68:18; Psa 110:1; John 16:27-28). “The ascension was the crowning culmination of His ministry on earth. The Son of God became the Son of Man in the incarnation, taking upon Himself a body of flesh and blood and then He returned to heaven with this same virgin-born, crucified, resurrected and glorified body. He came from heaven to earth as God becoming man, and then returned to heaven as the God-Man. In descending from heaven in the incarnation He did not cease to be God, and in ascending to heaven in the ascension, He did not cease to be man. Thus we have a man in the Godhead today (1 Tim. 2:5-6).” Kevin Conner, Foundations of Christian Doctrine
Between Christ’s resurrection and actual ascension there were 40 days of ministry.
Some of the major things that took place were:
- The presentation of Himself as the perfect and once-for-all sacrifice for sin, presenting His own body before the Father. As Aaron entered within the veil on the Day of Atonement, so Christ entered within the veil of the true and heavenly sanctuary (Lev. 16; Heb. 9:12-15,18-25; John 20:11-18,22-23).
- The various appearances of Christ to His followers. Refer to list of the witnesses of the resurrection during the 40 days (Page 5)
- The opening of the disciples understanding of the old testament scriptures (Luke 24:27,44-45).
- The teaching and instruction of Jesus to His disciples concerning the Kingdom of God took place during the 40 days (Acts 1:3,6).
- The Great Commission given to the disciples as the final charge before His bodily ascension to heaven (Mat. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-20; Luke 24:45-50; Acts 1:8).
The Glorification of Christ
In the incarnation the Son of God laid aside the glory that He had with the Father and humbled Himself to take manhood upon Himself. Upon the completion of His atoning work Jesus was entitled to receive back the glory that He laid aside in His humiliation. However, this glorification, though being the same eternal glory He had with the Father, pertained to His humanity. It was as Man, the perfect God-Man, that He was glorified. It was by right of who He was and what He had done. It also exemplifies the coming glorification of the saints.“Foundations of Christian Doctrine”, Kevin J Conner
Consider the following references of Scripture which speak of Christ’s glorification:
- The prophets foretold the sufferings of Christ and the glory that was to follow (1 Pet. 1:10-12; Luke 24:26-27)
- Jesus laid aside His glory in the humiliation of the incarnation for the sufferings of the cross (Phil. 2:5-8;John 1:14-18).
- Jesus prayed in His High Priestly prayer that the Father would glorify Him with the glory that He had with the Father before the world began (John 17:1-5).
The Exaltation of Christ
The exaltation of Jesus Christ involved His enthronement and the reception of His exalted Name.
Christ was exalted by the Father to sit in the throne with Him. “Sit Thou on My right hand until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1). The right hand is symbolic of a place of honour, power and authority. In sitting in the throne Jesus fulfils the main offices of Old Testament times. These offices are Prophet, Priest, King, Judge and Lord.
As Prophet He is the word and truth of God. He was the mouthpiece of God. His ministry is to dispense the knowledge of God to His people. This He does by the ministry of the Spirit.
As Priest He is the reconciler, mediator, advocate and intercessor. He speaks to God in behalf of men (Heb 5:1-10; Zech. 6:12-13).
As King He is the ruler, governor of the universe. He exercises authority over all things in heaven and earth (Mat. 28:19-20). As King He rules in the Church. All things are under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed will be death. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16).
As Judge He has perfect insight and discernment and is able to be a perfect judge of all mankind. His moral perfections and attributes qualify Him to be the true Judge of all men’s thoughts, words, deeds and motives. There is nothing hid from his eyes. God has therefore appointed Him as the Man to judge all mankind in an appointed day (Acts 17:31). As Judge, He will judge and reward all saints and sinners according to their works. The saints will be judged and rewarded at His second coming, and the ungodly will be judged at the Great White Throne Judgement (1 Cor. 3:10-15; 2 Cor. 5;10; Rom. 14:10; Rev 20:11-15).
His Exalted Name
The exaltation of Christ not only involved His enthronement to exercise His offices, but also included the reception of the exalted name, whereby His Lordship as the man Christ Jesus is forever settled. As to His deity, He was always Lord. As to His humanity He was made Lord. This act of exaltation was the Father’s bestowal of His name upon His Son making Him the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:9-11; Rom. 14:9). This name is the name above all others, it is the most powerful Name in all the universe.
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Phil 2:9-11 NKJV)