We recognise the anniversary of the day on which our Lord Jesus departed this world in His physical form and ascended into Heaven to take up His rightful place at the right hand of the Father. It was 40 days since His resurrection from the dead, leaving the tomb empty. During this time He had spoken to Mary of Magdala, the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, the disciples in a closed room, doubting Thomas, the fishermen (including Peter) on the shore of Galilee, and Paul tells us to over 500 people on one occasion, and even to His unbelieving brother James (1 Cor 15:5-7). Then, according to Mark 16:19 and Acts 1:9, Jesus ascended to take up His role as King of kings and Lord of lords, reigning from on high, the Earth being His footstool. Isn’t that really something! Jesus rules from on high – Yeah! Whoopee! Great! Goody!
Traditional Christianity regards Christ’s Ascension in 4 ways.
Glorification: The process by which the normal becomes divine. The act of ascension had been revered in ancient times, such as the accounts of Enoch and Elijah, but also from non-biblical sources like with the case of emperor Augustus, Romulus (the founder of Rome), and Heracles (Hercules). The process was an announcement to the witnesses of the divine acceptance bestowed on the ascending one.
Coronation: The promotion of Jesus to be our King and Lord, being crowned with glory and taking up His rightful position on the throne of heaven (as we usually understand it). Therefore, if we died with Him and rose with Him and have our being in Him, then we are also crowned with Him and seated on the throne, ruling and reigning as co-heirs within the oneness of the Godhead.
High Priesthood: In the past the High Priest could only enter into the Holy of Holies one day a year to stand before the Judgement/Mercy Seat and offer the blood of atonement. Jesus ascended to the Judgement seat declaring Mercy for all through the offering of His blood, once for all time. He now is the one to whom, and through whom, we can enter into the oneness.
Sending of the Comforter: The old understanding is that if Jesus had stayed in His physical form on earth, then He would not have been able to help everyone, only those who could get to Him. By ascending into the spiritual realm He was able to send the Comforter (Holy Spirit) to help. To whom did He send the Holy Spirit? Acts 2:17 declares that the Spirit was poured out on ALL flesh (mankind, humanity). This then allows Jesus (the Divine One, the God) to minister to ALL, thus infusing (baptising, immersing) each of us into the Oneness.
But wait, there’s more! We can also regard Christ’s Ascension as the opportunity for Him to prepare a place for us (John 14: 2-4), which He has done.
And there is even more, for in Ephesians 2:4-6 we are informed that in God’s mercy and grace we too have been raised up, and He has made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, as this is the place prepared for us. Why do we not understand that this has already been done, that we, even now, sit on the Holy Throne of Heaven ruling as co-heirs, in and with Jesus. All of humanity, you included, has been ascended, being set free of the captivity of the veil of our ignorant minds, no longer wallowing in the mire of shame that we had imposed upon ourselves since first believing the lie: the lie that we were less than the incarnate image and likeness of God; the lie that we had wronged our God and deserved His wrathful vengeance; the lie that if we were able to somehow make ourselves good enough we could appease His eternal condemnation. Oh the joy of knowing that His ascension awakens us to see that we sit in our rightful place of authority and in the oneness!!!!
But what of the 2 in white and their message? Acts 1:9-11 describes not only the ascension of Jesus into the spiritual realm, but the message spoken by 2 men in white that appear. This message was not only to comfort the disciples on the apparent loss of Jesus from their midst, but also gave them and us the hope of His return. This message comforts us knowing that He has not left us nor forsaken us forever, but in His love for us will come again for humanity. It is true that in a critical aspect, Jesus (the God, Divine One) did return to humanity, descending on ALL through the Holy Spirit (the God, Divine One) at Pentecost. Yet there is still a time to come when we will be raised up in our resurrected Godly forms to ‘meet Him in the air’.