Collect of the Day
Father Almighty, the King of glory, you who exalted your only Son Jesus Christ with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven: We desire that you do not leave us desolate, but pray that you will send your Spirit to strengthen us, and exalt us to the place to which our Saviour has already gone; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.
The Lessons From Holy Scripture
Acts 1:1 – 11
In my former book, Theophilous, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach, until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering he showed himself to these men and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion while he was eating with them, he gave them this command : “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.
They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
*He that rose from the clods, we expect from the clouds.
- Thomas Adam
Luke 24:44 – 53
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you been clothed with power from on high.”
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
*The fact that Jesus Christ is enthroned as master of the universe should be of enormous encouragement to all believers.
- J.I. Packer
THE ASCENSION OF CHRIST
The season of Ascension marks a vitally important occurrence. As the day of special and concentrated emphasis occurs always on a Thursday, forty days after the resurrection, it is bound to be overlooked by the bulk of Sunday worshippers. But it is a joyful and triumphant occasion when the Lord Jesus rises to his heavenly glory and kingship as Lord of the cosmos and reigning head of the church.
Reading the accounts of Christ’s ascent to heaven and all that it implies in various references throughout the New Testament creates a huge adoration, gratitude, and trust toward our lovely and all-powerful Saviour. Our redemption is wrought on this planet in the comprehensive earthly history of the Lord Jesus from birth to departure. Every moment of his human life contributed to our salvation but there are several stages to be especially noted because of their key importance and power - the manifestation of the extraordinary concern, calendar and operation of God that demonstrate his wisdom and action for our restoration to himself.
We carry all the steps to the completion of Christ’s assignment on our behalf in our minds always, but there is great pastoral benefit in concentrating on central events through which he achieved the divine purpose of saving love. We make room to gaze deeply and intently upon Incarnation, Resurrection, Ascension as towering peaks along the route to our eternal rescue. Great divine events are the sources from which we derive our deposit of doctrine. The living persons and real happenings of Scripture fill us with living truth and godly experience that prevents our faith from becoming dry abstraction and a series of desiccated notions.
The celebration of Ascension makes provision for the full acknowledgement of the majesty and magnitude of the dominion of the Lord Jesus Christ. We are privileged to extol our Redeemer ascendant as loftily exalted and universally enthroned over all persons, places and powers. All phenomena seen and unseen are under his sway. Our disposition by grace is to exult in his absolute supremacy conducted in the perfection of all his incomparable attributes. His rule is total and true in its righteousness and reliability. When evil is entirely eliminated and abolished peace and happiness will prevail everywhere beyond our capacity to conceive.
There is an ever flowing realization of the marvel of the ascension as it pertains to the Lord. But there is an added dimension to the coronation of the Lord Jesus. It is actually participative and as his subjects we are “with him in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 2:6), recipients of his intimately personal donations of grace as actually apportioned by him (Ephesians 4:7) and gifted with talents and ability to render service in his name (Ephesians 4:8). He is ascended on high to lavish blessings upon us, and as believers we are destined to ultimately dwell with him in the Father’s house (John 14: 2). For us the ascension is the pledge of abundant and endless grace; the guarantee that our Saviour will never leave us while we are here on earth (Matthew 28:20), He says, “Never will I leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews13:5). His promise is firm, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am (John 14:3).
“Never was the sun itself gazed on with so much intention. With what long looks, with what astonished acclamations did these astonished beholders follow thee, their ascending Saviour, as if they would have looked through that cloud, and that heaven, that hid thee from them? But, O, what tongue of the highest archangel of heaven can express the welcome of thee, the king of Glory into these blessed regions of immortality?”
- Bishop Joseph Hall
Almighty Father and ever-living God, we truly believe that your only begotten Son our lord Jesus Christ has ascended into heaven: Grant, we pray, that we may also in heart and mind ascend there and continually dwell with him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- The Collect For Ascension Day