Sermons

Ascension (Mk 16:14–20; Acts 1:1–11)

May 25, 2017
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!

HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

INI + AMEN.

Jesus has ascended. It’s a big day for humanity. Easter was big: death was overcome. Our God became man, then died and rose. He really was alive again: “He showed Himself alive…by many proofs” (Acts 1). Now, another big day: there’s a man upon the eternal throne! Jesus is God, and He’s still man—will be forever! “Man with God is on the throne” (LSB 494), as we sang earlier. That’s huge!

Acts 3:21: HE MUST RECEIVE HEAVEN UNTIL THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS.

((I. He’s on the throne.))

So, yes, Jesus “RECEIVES HEAVEN.” What does that mean? It means: He raises our humanity to God’s eternal throne. Our humanity is seated “at the right hand of God” (Mk 16) in the person Jesus. Jesus certainly has all power, glory, honor, and dominion because He really is God, but now, by His incarnation and ascension, even as a man He has all those things. “The man Christ Jesus, the only Mediator between God and men,” (1 Timothy 2) is adored and praised by angels and archangels, and by all the company of heaven. That is what it means to RECEIVE HEAVEN.

Because Jesus exalted, lifted up, and glorified our human nature, now, not just as God, not just as man, but as both God and man, He rules and fills all things. As Paul says, Christ has been seated “far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one that is to come,” (Eph 1). Absolutely everything in the universe has been put under Jesus’ nail-scarred feet. This was revealed when Jesus ascended and RECEIVED HEAVEN.

How then can God be against you? How can He be against humanity? Not only did He come and become one of us, died and rose for us, but now He has exalted our humanity in such a way that if He were to be against us, He would be against Himself—the very throne of God would be divided.

About that throne—it isn’t off somewhere, like you could point to it on a map. No, wherever God is, there’s His throne, and He’s everywhere. Jesus, God and man, is everywhere. The Psalmist confesses: “Where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there.…If I…dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, Even there Your hand shall lead me…” (Ps 139) We can rightly address this prayer to Jesus, and that this is the case is revealed in His ascension and being seated “at the right hand of God” (Mk 16).

((II. There will be a restoration.))

Acts 3:21: HE MUST RECEIVE HEAVEN UNTIL THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS.

There will be a restoration. The Apostles knew that: “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel.” “Will you now bring about the end of all things, Jesus?”—that’s what they’re asking. No, but what was lost will be restored. Perfection and living in God’s presence were lost through sin. Life was lost through death. Tears, pain, and sadness replaced unfiltered joy and happiness.

All this will be undone: “there will no more death or mourning or crying or pain” (Rev 7). The world won’t be broken anymore. You won’t be broken anymore. We and those we love who’ve died in the faith won’t be dead nor will die anymore. We’ll see God the Father, Jesus the Son face to face. The Spirit will forevermore perfect us, and keep us living and holy forever. That’s restoration.

Jesus will do it. Yes, He’s a man, but, because He’s really God, He will certainly keep His promise: “I will resurrect you on the Last Day” (Jn 6). He always had this power: He did it for Lazarus, and He’ll do it again for Lazarus and for you. The Apostle’s were right to ask Jesus, “Will you at this time restore?”

Their timing was off. It will happen though—on the Last Day. “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority” (Acts 1), Jesus told the Apostles. And the angels also told them: “This Jesus will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven” (Acts 1) Then restoration will happen for us, the Israel of God.

((III. Until then, Jesus is still at work.))

Acts 3:21: HE MUST RECEIVE HEAVEN UNTIL THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS.

So, what’s going on until the restoration of all things? Well, Jesus is still at work. The Gospels record only the beginning of what Jesus did. That’s what Luke tells us in Acts: “In the first book, O Theophilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day He was taken up” (Acts 1). Jesus worked and taught, but He wasn’t done when He ascended. He continues to work. Jesus isn’t gone. A cloud merely “took him out of their sight” (Acts 1).

He worked through the Apostles. That’s certainly Luke’s meaning. The first book (the Gospel of Luke) was all about what Jesus started doing, and now this book (the Book of Acts) is about what Jesus kept doing through the Apostles. That’s precisely what Mark tells us: “the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the accompanying signs” (Mk 16).

But Jesus still works now. Right now. He’s governing, upholding, and preserving the entire universe, of course. He fills all things. He can certainly find you anywhere: from a gentle rain to a hurricane. There’s no comfort out there. Yes, “God’s everywhere,” Jesus is everywhere, but He’s not everywhere for you.

Yes, He can find you anywhere and everywhere, in fact, He’s anywhere and everywhere you are, even when you think no one else can see or know what you’re doing. He knows even your thoughts and desires. (Thanks be to God that the anywhere, everywhere God died and rose FOR US. We needed Him to.)

You can’t find Him anywhere and everywhere, but He does tell you where can find Him! It’s all there at the end of the Gospels. Tonight, we get Mark 16: “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved.” He’s in the preaching of the Gospel. He’s in Baptism. He’s here now. He’s among those who His cherish His Word by studying it, because He’s in that Word. He’s in His Supper. He’s in His Absolution. The anywhere, everywhere Jesus comes in all of His Gifts, where He’s at work for you.

Jesus receives heaven. That’s what today’s all about. It’s a big day for humanity. Easter was big: death was overcome. Our God became man, then died and rose. Now, another big day: there’s a man upon the eternal throne! That’s huge! He’s received all power and glory, and now the anywhere, everywhere God comes to you in His Word and His Water, His Minister, His body and blood.

Acts 3:21: HE MUST RECEIVE HEAVEN UNTIL THE RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS. He will bring restoration. His incarnation, resurrection, and now receiving heaven show us He can, and He will. “Come soon, Lord Jesus” (Rev 22).

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!

HE IS RISEN INDEED! ALLELUIA!

INI + AMEN.

Advertisements
Standard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s