(43) he ascended into heaven

When the Son of God had been reduced to next to nothing at all in the realm of the dead, it was quite clear that death could not put out the last spark of him, even at his weakest. As a man, Jesus had been entirely faithful right to the end, trusting in God to the uttermost. God was now ready to make a new beginning with the human race and all his created world. God and man could now be together in a new way with all the endless possibilities of eternal life.

That last dim ember of God, not quite gone out, began to glow again in the realm of the dead. Jesus began to take to himself again the powers of the Son of man and the Son of God. His ascension commenced. The Spirit of Jesus stood forth in splendid radiance. All around, the shadows disappeared before the light of the Lord of life. Soon the word of God’s new world-in-the-making was rolling throughout the long caverns of the days that were past and the men who were gone. The faint vestiges of the faithful people of God, who had once received with joy the promise of a coming deliverer, began to respond to the word that sought them out. Perhaps also those others who, though they had never heard the promise God had made to Israel, had been seriously faithful to such truth as they had. Though they were dead, they began to live. As one piano echoes the tone of another, the dead came forth in answer to Christ’s call. His “jewels” began to flash back to him his own glorious light. The Son of God ransacked the ancient stronghold of death for men of old who were the rightful treasures of God. The liberated captives of death streamed up out of their dungeons to pledge their devotion to their Lord. He threw open the gates of hell from the inside and led his people out of their perpetual perishing. A fair and pleasant land began to spread before them as they came. He was preparing a place for them which he called paradise.

Who can describe the wonder of that new realm, full of the light of the Savior’s presence, where they were to await the time of the fulfillment of all things! There they wait in the full certainty of hope and in the sweetest of peace. There is no more perishing for them, for there is a great gulf fixed between them and the deadly past. For them there is only the blissful present with Christ and the anticipation of a still more wonderful future. The believing thief who died beside Jesus came into paradise with Jesus the very first day as promised. And thither go all our blessed dead who die today in the Lord. With him in life, they continue with him in death.

Christ’s power successfully penetrated the whole spread of God’s world. Even the gates of hell could not stand in his way, for he has the keys of death and hell. He was able to save to the uttermost. Because Jesus began his ascent from the deepest depths of death, I believe in paradise.