Thursday, June 18, 2009


My article from today's Algona Upper Des Moines about the Ascension:

Q: If the Bible says that Jesus ascended into Heaven after He rose from the dead, why do we always hear it said that He is present with us now?

The Bible tells us that Jesus died on a Friday afternoon, but rose to life again on Sunday morning. After He rose from the dead, He appeared to hundreds of people, including His disciples, over the course of the next 40 days (Luke 24, John 20-21). On the fortieth day, while Jesus was talking with His disciples, “He began to be lifted up, and a cloud hid Him from their sight.” (Acts 1:9) Several New Testament passages also speak of Jesus as having ascended into Heaven and that He is “seated at the right hand of God the Father…” as many Christians confess in the Apostles’ Creed.

In other places, Jesus promises that He will be with His disciples and all Christians. He says, “Behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20). He also promises, “where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” (Matthew 18:20) When the apostle Paul writes letters to churches in the New Testament, He often includes a blessing which says that God will be with those who read the letter. (Sometimes He says Jesus, other times God, Lord, or the Holy Spirit.)

On one hand, the Gospels and the book of Acts clearly teach that Jesus did ascend into Heaven. On the other hand, Jesus’ own words, as well as the letters of Paul clearly teach that God will be with Christians until Jesus comes again on the last day. How can these both be true?

We know that God is present everywhere. In Jeremiah 23:24, God says, “’Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him? …Do I not fill heaven and earth?’” Since Jesus is God, He is present in all times and places, but when He makes the promises mentioned above, He is talking specifically to His followers, not to all people. The fact that God is present everywhere is the same for all people whether they follow Jesus or not. The presence Jesus is promising is something special that is not true for the rest of the world.

Sometimes when we are apart from a friend or family member, they say that they are with us in Spirit, and we often speak of deceased loved ones as being with us in our memory. Here, though, Jesus is promising far more than that we will remember Him or that he will be with us “in spirit.” Before Jesus died, He promised His disciples that after He had risen, He would send the Holy Spirit to guide them and remind them of the things He had said (John 14-16), and just before He ascended, He again promised to send the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:8).

Whenever we read or hear the Bible, (or remember what we have read from it, or hear a friend talking about Jesus, hear a song which talks about Him, etc.) God sends the Holy Spirit, through whom Jesus becomes supernaturally present with us.

Furthermore, on the night before He was crucified, Jesus took bread and said, “This is my body.” Then He took wine and said, “This is my blood.” He then instructed His disciples to keep on doing this in remembrance of Him. Whenever Christians participate in the Lord’s Supper (a.k.a. Communion or Eucharist), Jesus body and blood become present in a special way among them. Since Jesus is both God and human, even His human body can be present all over the world at the same time.

When we go about our day, Jesus is present with us, just as He is with every person, but for Christians, Jesus comes to us in an extraordinary way through the God’s Word, the Bible, and when we take part in Lord’s Supper.

Readers are encouraged to submit questions for inclusion in future issues. According to your preference, you may include your first name or submit questions anonymously, and I will do my best to answer your questions as my knowledge and research allow and according to their suitability for publication. You may submit questions by email to or by mail to P.O. Box 195; Burt, IA 50522.

No comments:

Post a Comment