If you were to write a list of the ten most important events in Jesus’ ministry, what would it include? Three are obvious: his birth, death and resurrection; which even our rapidly de-Christianising culture still celebrate (even as it is detached from the events). What would make up the other seven?
Maybe some of his miracles. Some of his teaching might feature. What about his baptism, temptation in the wilderness, his transfiguration?
There are so many different points in his ministry we could pick, and so many that would be left out! But there is one event whose significance is rarely appreciated: the ascension.
The risen Jesus, after spending 40 days teaching his apostles, physically ascended into the heavens, to sit at God’s right hand. Think of the magnitude of that! There is a man, right now, who for all eternity sits on the throne. He did not shed his humanity like a snake sheds its skin. The second person of the Trinity has forever humbled himself, taking on ‘the form of a servant’ (Phil 2:7).
The ascended Jesus gave gifts to his people. He sent his Holy Spirit (John 16:7), who in turn gives us spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12). He gave ‘the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers’ (Eph 4:11).
Wonderfully, because we are united to Christ, we’ve been raised with him, and we’re to ‘set [our] minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth’ (Col 3:2).
The ascension changes everything. Never before has a man sat on God’s throne. And this perfect, exalted man has given us incomparable gifts, which we would never want to exchange. Of course we would want to set our minds on him. We worship, and wait for, the ascended Christ. He is our boast.