The ascension is the event where Jesus Christ demonstrated the mission accomplished of the Godhead. When He sat down at the Father’s right hand, we were carried within Him and we are reintegrated into the shared life of God. The resurrection, ascension and session of Christ have great soteriological implications for us. What salvation is is not defined by the fall of Adam. Jesus did not come as God’s plan B in order to remedy the sin of Adam. This is crucial if we are to retrieve Paulinian thoughts as pertain to salvation.
In Christ we are made one. God and man heaven and earth, spirit and matter are now one. The ascension of Christ should lift up our patterns of thinking to transcend the dualistic paradigm. We need to see beyond the divide between God and man, heaven and earth, the sacred and the secular.
Christologically speaking, prior to the Logos assuming our humanity as Jesus, He pre-existed as the eternal Son, as the Christ. He was chosen before creation to be the one in whom we will have our being, our identity, our all in all. In the fullness of time, in His love, He demonstrated extreme humility and emptied Himself to be poured forth, to be infleshed as the last Adam. From the moment of His conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary, Jesus was the last of the Adamic species. He fully identified with the consequences of the fall by being born as far as the curse was found. In Christ, we are unfallen. Our offspring are not tarnished by the fall. While this may not be evident to others. It is a clear starting point if Jesus died as the last Adam.
From the moment of His descent from the bosom of the Father as the only begotten Son into the womb of the virgin Mary, every event in the life of Jesus is at the same time very God and very man. In His true humanity of rational soul and body, Jesus was born with a mind that was yet to be transfigured by the realisation and true enlightenment of that which He was from the eternal ages – this enlightenment to morph Him from the carpenter of Nazareth which He had become, a supposed identity. Imagine an impossibility: Had Jesus not awakened to His identity, He would have lived as a carpenter. Coming back to our own context: what is the supposed identity that you as son of the Father have assumed? Jesus had to learn and accept within the depth of His own soul what He knew of Himself. It was an opinion at the time which He knew was shared by none other but Himself.
To awaken to what you are, you must set aside your supposed identity. How do you go from accepting that you are a carpenter of Nazareth to the Christos who pre-existed the beginning of creation? The One in whom and by whom all things co-inhere, the One in whom all things are held together and sustained. We are aware that as the last Adam, Jesus undertook the failed career of the first. He entered into our falleness and, taking it upon Himself, brings it in an irreversible conclusion in death. Unfortunately, this is where most of Christendom ends: at the foot of the cross. It is rightfully so because the time has come for the world to see Christ beyond Christianity. Christianity cannot circumscribe Christ.
At the resurrection, something unprecedented occurred to the God-Man with eternal consequences for God, for man, for heaven, for earth, for time and space, for spirit and matter. The resurrected Jesus is Christ but the risen Christ is beyond the individual form and life time of Jesus. Many times, we want to interpret the eternal from the temporal; thus, we interpret the eternal Son of the Father from the thirty-three and a half years of the humanity He assumed while on earth. The resurrected Christ is Jesus released from all time-space restrictions. This means that, beginning from the resurrection, we can no longer place a date on Jesus.
Christ in His resurrection includes all. All spiritual and physical aspects of the cosmos, celestial and terrestrial are reconciled in Him. Jesus is the cosmic Christ in whom the whole world has been reconciled to the Father in His one person. We cannot speak of an individual of limited form and lifetime, an individual limited to time in such terms. Beginning from the resurrection, something happened within the humanity Jesus had assumed which irreversibly changed everything. At the resurrection, the flesh assumed by Jesus was transfigured, metamorphosed into light. This was pre-figured on Mount Tabor when Jesus was transfigured, visited by the Old Testament prophets, Moses and Elijah. His disciples, upon viewing this wonder, were imposed silence by Jesus until His glorification – His resurrection, ascension and session. A pneumatised body of light which now permeates all things from the nanosecond of His resurrection.
Jesus as the last Adam was limited to one geographic location at a given point of time due to the limits imposed on the humanity He had assumed from Adam. In His resurrection, we see man as God intended. We are as boundless as light.
After forty days of infallible proofs, Jesus ascends into heaven. Why forty days? This has great significance. The disciples, who were raised under Judaism, understood the implication of the forty days. It was the complete period that was intended by God for the crossing of the wilderness and the possessing of the Promised Land. Jesus in His ascension is claiming their inheritance at the Father’s right hand.
* This is an extract from Dr. Shawn Smith’s sermon commemorating Ascension Day.