Anne Lastman 

The Ascension of Jesus to Heaven and its significance seem to carry only little importance in the western  Christian faith. The Ascension is an experience of Jesus which is briefly written about by St Luke and in Acts  of The Apostles (Lk 24:50-53, Acts 1:9-11) with only 7 verses to tell of the event which seems so small a  narrative for such an immense event of the exaltation and glorification of the Son of God, and with the  Ascension being the climax of his life on earth and his return to his place of glory and in glory. 

The Ascension is given what appears to be so little attention especially after the suffering and death and  resurrection and yet without this it would have left the story incomplete. This being the final sign of his victory  over the enemy. The resurrection without the Ascension would have remained incomplete because the  Ascension, a visible sign of his divinity, and the opening of the heavenly gates (no more angels barring the entry  with flaming sword) and again a place for the human being is found, that is, one in the form of man, a creature,  and one who has defeated the power of satan over the creature.  

The Ascension marks the end of the Lord’s life on earth and his life as a human being and begins his journey  back to the Father and to reclaim the place left vacant due to his sojourn among life and as one of the children of  Adam. Indeed, he returns, work completed, to sit at the right hand of His Father. 

The Ascension follows post resurrection appearances over the forty days prior to his leaving them. It’s  interesting that the Lord, following his resurrection, had somehow changed but was the same yet different. He  is recognised in His speech (Jn 20:11-18) on the Road to Emmaus (Lk24:18-32). His visit to the apostles  entering via locked door (Jn 20:26) His presence on the shores of the sea of Galilee cooking for the fisherman  (Jn 21:4-14.) He was the same yet very different. Perhaps one could suggest that in this new form He was in the  manner of Adam prior to his sin.  

What happened over the forty days following the resurrection and before his ascension? Scriptures don’t say  but using eisegesis it’s possible to try and read into possibilities. Perhaps He would have instructed his apostles  on his life and their future life as his followers. He was able to now clearly explain his role, his life, the  references about Himself in Old Testament scriptures and his fulfilment of them. His work as prophet, priest  King who completed all promises made by the Father. We know that he appointed Peter as chief shepherd and  possibly helped him to understand the work which that involved. Many possibilities in a short time. 

Jesus, having completed all that was foretold and installing one in the form of “man” in the place where he was  originally meant to be, that is, in the heavenly realm where he would be with their creator before sin was found  within him. “Man” was made for the vacated places in Paradise (vacated by the rebellious angels) and with his  installation as one in the form of the son of man would be a mediator between the Father and His creation, the  

human beings created in His own image and likeness. No longer is the heavenly realm closed to “man” because  one like “man” is there to intercede for him. A direct intercessor for the humanity who achieved what the first  Adam was unable to achieve, the Fathers will, obedience, honour.  

The Ascension of the Lord Jesus brings to mind His Lordship both in Heaven and on earth. Brings to mind the  fulfilment of the promised one (Gen3:14-16) who would reverse all that offended the Creator God and damaged  the human being. The Ascension brings to mind, like the Resurrection, the power of God and through His son  Jesus the ways of God. The Ascension, like the resurrection, was a vision of the way it should have been. The  way of God’s intention before sin entered the human dimension. 

The resurrection, a miraculous event and defeat of death, and the Ascension of our Lord, and a return to the  heavenly realm of one fully in the image of man were events which completed God’s saving action. 

The narrative about the Ascension does not say very much. We really don’t know who was present to see Him  go away but it’s assumed that his apostles/friends (I no longer call you servants. I call you friends Jn 15:15-17)  were present and above all His mother would be present. It would be inconceivable to think that he would have  left his earthly life without seeing his mother’s face and saying goodbye to her for the last time. 

We have watched (through the Gospels) Mary’s presence at all the most important events in the life of her child.  At his Annunciation (her fiat was needed) at His leaving her care and beginning His father’s work (Marriage  Feast at Cana (Jn 2:1-12) her presence was needed. During his passion and along the journey to the cross and 

his dying and even there her presence was needed. (Jn: 19-27) At His descent from the cross her presence was  needed and we can expect that after His resurrection He would have visited His beloved mother. So, it’s  inconceivable that at his departing the from the earth she would not be present to say “goodbye my son your  Father is waiting for you” An earthly mother hurts deeply at the loss of her son either through misadventure,  death or departure, and the heavenly mother also hurts because she knows she will not see her son again until  sometime in the future. His beloved mother would have had mixed feelings both sadness and joy. Sadness at  his going from her vision and presence and earthly life but great joy at his returning to His Father’s House. To  His Father’s presence and to the place where he belonged…Glory. “Now Father it is time for you to glorify me  with that glory I had with you before the world ever way” (Jn. 17:5) 

The Transfiguration and the Ascension have always been my two favourite New Testament events. The  Transfiguration has given me a glimpse into kept promises, that is, Moses being shown the promised land in the  person of the Lord himself. He was and is the promised land and whilst Moses did not see the physical  geography of the promised land the Lord showed him that indeed He himself was the promised land and that he,  Moses is now able to see the land that he had been forbidden to see but now had been able to see the true  promised land. And for Elijah to see that the one he had heralded as the one who was to come had indeed come  and that it was, He himself. And of course, the Ascension narrative opens the doorway for a beautiful preview of  the beauty of the place God has prepared for those who love and want to be with him. The Ascension is the  visible promise of what is now open and possible for all who love. Only love can enter through the gates. For  love to meet love. God is Love (Ps 103).