They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe. A young couple start to take each other for granted. They’re forced apart for a time. They realise how much the miss each other.
During this lockdown. Maybe absence makes our hearts grow fonder for friends, family we cannot see. Maybe. But absence can do other things. Absence can make us sad. Lonely. It can make us wonder if the other person cares about us, misses us, loves us?
Right at the centre of Christianity, there is an absence. God came to earth. He took on flesh in the person of Jesus. Jesus died on the cross and rose again. And then Jesus left us. He is not here. And that absence is hard. It makes some people write Jesus off. Where is? For others, it makes us wonder if he really cares about us, misses us, loves us?
Today is Ascension day. It is the day Christians particularly remember that Jesus has ascended into heaven. But why should we celebrate the day Jesus left us?
Here are two big reasons:
1. The ascended Jesus is praying
When Jesus ascended into heaven, he didn’t enter into some kind of eternal retirement where he’s just relaxing. Not at all. In Romans 8:34 we read this:
“Christ Jesus who died – more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
This is what is happening in heaven. Right now. It’s a courtroom scene. God the Father… surveying the world, and surveying us. Making a decision about us. And at his right hand is Jesus, interceding for all those who have trusted in him. Pleading our case:
“Father, I died for these people. My blood has washed them clean.”
And because Jesus is praying for his own right now… Christians have total confidence that God the Father accepts us and loves us.
Jesus is praying.
2. The ascended Jesus is reigning
“[God] raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion.”
This present coronavirus crisis has reminded us just how little control we have over our lives. There is only so much governments or scientists or doctors can do.
But history is not rudderless. The ascended Jesus is sat on the throne in heaven reigning over this world. And there is no power, or force, or scenario that can stop his good plans for his people.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Maybe. But we do know this. Absence means Jesus is praying for us. And he is reigning for us. And one day he will come back for us.
Happy Ascension Day!