Honoring Mother’s Day and Jesus' Ascension: A Revelation of Divine Majesty 

May 12, 2024 – 7th Sunday of Easter | Ephesians 1:16-23

Honoring Mother’s Day and Jesus' Ascension 

Today, many will honor their mothers with accolades and expressions of love, rightfully acknowledging the esteemed role of motherhood. This recognition aligns with the high regard that both motherhood and fatherhood hold among mankind, each possessing a "hidden majesty," as Luther often emphasized. 

However, amidst these celebrations, let us also turn our focus to the revelation of divine majesty embodied in Jesus Christ. Through words and songs, we commemorate His ascension into heaven, which occurred 40 days after His resurrection.

Sadly, the recent anniversary of Ascension Day passed unnoticed by much of the world, including many Christians. Yet, Jesus' ascension holds profound significance as it marks the culmination of His mission to save sinners. It is the ultimate honoring and exaltation of His divine and human nature.

Furthermore, we can view Jesus' ascension as the exaltation of the Holy Christian Church, which is the Body of Christ. Just as Christ ascended bodily to the right hand of God, so too does the Church share in His glory and majesty. This realization is essential, as it reminds us that we, as believers in Christ, are part of His Body. Therefore, in contemplating Jesus' ascension, we see ourselves as the Lord sees us – not as weak sinners, but as enveloped in the glory of the Risen and Ascended Christ, the King of heaven and Earth.

Understanding Jesus’ Ascension: A Revelation

In our Epistle reading today, Paul prays for the Ephesians and all who will read his letter, asking God to grant them a spirit of wisdom and revelation. This prayer aims to help them grasp fully what they possess as believers in Christ due to His resurrection and ascension to God's right hand. These blessings include the hope of His calling, the richness of His inheritance in the saints, and the extraordinary power at work in their lives.

I hope that by focusing on Jesus' ascension today, you'll first be reminded that in Christ, you occupy a lofty position at God's right hand. Secondly, you'll understand that all things are under your authority in Christ.

To put it differently, as Paul articulates in the sixth verse of the next chapter, even when we were spiritually dead due to our sins, God made us alive together with Christ by His grace. He raised us with Christ and seated us in the heavenly realms. Jesus' ascension assures us that we are united with Him and He is present within us.

But how is this possible? The answer lies in the Son of God's incarnation. By taking on human flesh, He entered into true solidarity with us. He experienced everything we do, including human authorities and the struggles of sin. At His baptism, He identified with our status under God's judgment and was anointed as the sacrificial Lamb on our behalf. Through His obedient life, He fulfilled the Law for us. On the cross, in our humanity, He endured hell and made complete atonement for our sins. He was buried and then conquered death, raising our humanity to a position of honor and power in His ascension.

This truth is beautifully expressed in Christopher Wordsworth's hymn, "See, the Lord Ascends in Triumph" (LSB 494), where we celebrate Jesus' exaltation of our human nature to God's right hand. In Christ, we share in this glory and stand with Him in heavenly places. Thus, through faith, we behold our exaltation alongside our mighty Lord.

Your Eternal Position in Christ

I hesitate to resort to a cliché, but truly, "how magnificent this is!" At God's right hand, you see what is unseen by earthly eyes and our worldly perspective. In Christ Jesus, you discover your true identity, your possessions, and your future. 

Positioned with Christ at the Father's right hand, you glimpse the hope embedded in His call to you. You realize your status as children of God, co-heirs with Christ, and you catch a glimpse of your future glory and victory over all adversaries.

Consider the remarkable perspective that Jesus, your Brother, and Savior in the flesh, provides through His ascension. This awe-inspiring revelation of your eternal position in Christ was the very focus of Jesus' prayers during His final week before His crucifixion. Recorded by the apostle John, Jesus audibly prayed with His apostles, expressing His desire for those given to Him by the Father to be with Him and witness His glory—the same glory bestowed upon Him out of the Father's love before the world's creation (John 17:24). 

Through His sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection, Jesus has fulfilled His prayer for you. Jesus’ ascension to the Father's right hand in glorious affirmation ensures that the answer to all your prayers has been granted.

Beyond Pain and Death: Christ's Ascension and Your Eternal Vision

One of life's greatest joys for me is standing atop a mountain peak, gazing down at the valley below, or soaring through the sky in an airplane, witnessing the world from a bird's-eye view. It's from these elevated perspectives that we gain a fresh outlook on life. I can only imagine the awe astronauts experience. Looking down from such heights, the earth and all its inhabitants seem remarkably small. The concerns that once loomed large on the ground suddenly appear trivial. 

Christ's ascension offers you a similar vantage point, free from worldly distractions. It grants you an eternal vision, allowing you to see beyond your present struggles and pains. Seated in glory, Christ reveals your true reality—your future glory with Him, transcending pain, tragedy, and even death.

Your connection with Jesus Christ is profoundly realized through your baptism. Baptism isn't merely a ceremonial gesture; it signifies your union with Jesus. As the apostle Paul explains in Romans 6, through baptism, you were united with Christ in His death and resurrection. His death becomes your death, His life becomes your life, and His victory becomes your victory. The glory He enjoys at the Father's right hand is the glory He shares with you.

Moreover, Christ's ascension empowers members of His Church to recognize that all things are subject to them in Jesus Christ. As Paul writes, God has placed all authority under Christ's feet, appointing Him as head over everything for the Church, His body. While some may wonder why Jesus needed to be given authority when, as the Son of God, everything was already under His control, the answer lies in His humanity. Like us, Jesus' human nature lacked inherent power and honor. However, through His resurrection and ascension, His human nature now shares in the authority and power inherent in His divine nature.

Jesus' Ascension: Exercising Power and Authority

At the right hand of God, Jesus now exercises His power, encompassing both His human and divine nature, as Luther observed. All authority in heaven and on earth is under His control. Even in His human nature, He reigns over every human institution, nation, leader, and power. No longer is Jesus vulnerable to the assaults of the devil; rather, the ancient enemy must now yield to Him.

Moreover, the limitations of physical laws no longer constrain Jesus' abilities. Both in His human and divine nature, He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Simultaneously, His presence with the Father in heaven and with believers on earth allows Him to serve His body through the sacraments of His body and blood.

Paul emphasizes that Christ has been appointed head over all things for the Church, which comprises all true believers in Jesus Christ. This grants the Church a remarkable gift: Jesus, who reigns over all creation, is its head. Therefore, whatever is subject to Christ is also subject to His Church. Despite potential persecution or slander, believers can find solace in the fact that all things are under Christ's authority, and consequently, under the Church's authority.

This truth is why James assures believers that resisting the devil will cause him to flee, why King David declares fearlessness even in the shadow of death, and why Jesus promises that the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church. With Christ's ascension to glory and power, believers are granted a remarkable perspective—they are united with Him and He is with them. Let us praise God for our Lord's Ascension! Amen.

May 12, 2024 | 7th Sunday of Easter – In Thine Ascension We Behold Our Own (Ephesians 1:16-23)

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