Forty days after His resurrection from the grave Jesus ascended to heaven to occupy His heavenly throne at the Father’s right hand. We are apt to neglect this aspect of the Lord’s life because much attention is given to His birth, temptation, baptism, transfiguration, miracles, and death. Yet, these events in Christ’s life would lose their significance without the fact of His ascension. There are several reasons why the Lord’s ascension was necessary.
It was necessary because Christ’s earthly mission was completed. He came to do the Father’s will which involved dying upon Calvary’s cross for man’s sins (Jn. 1:29). The last words He uttered were, “It is finished” (Jn. 19:30). Having accomplished the work for which He was sent (Jn. 17:4), Jesus ascended and “sat down on the right had of the majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3).
It was necessary in order that Jesus might take up His priestly office. “Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all…” (Heb. 8:4). Since He has ascended, Christ stands now in the presence of God fulfilling His priestly function of interceding in our behalf (Heb. 7:25).
It was necessary in order that Christ might prepare our heavenly home. He told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them (Jn. 14:2) At His ascension, the Bridegroom went to prepare a place for His bride, the church. Where Christ our Forerunner has gone, His people may and will also go.
It was necessary before He could send the Holy Spirit. John the Baptizer promised that Christ would baptize with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:1). This promise, however, could not be fulfilled until Jesus ascended (Jn. 16:7). Ten days after the disciples saw Jesus ascend into heaven (Acts 1:9), the apostles were miraculously empowered being filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4). The events of that day recorded in Acts 2 marked the beginning of the Lord’s church and the redemption of man through a crucified, risen, and ascended Savior (Acts 2:29-36).
It was necessary that we might have a pledge of Christ’s sure and certain return. Jesus said, “If I go…I come again” (Jn. 14:3; cf. Acts 1:9-11). He has gone --- and we can be quite certain that He will come again!