(45) he ascended . . .

Jesus’ passage into heaven was important to him in many ways. He had finished the preparatory work which God had given him to do. God’s vanishing treasures of human life had been safely gathered together in paradise. Eternally victorious life had been made available for men. A process of ascension had been begun which would eventually involve everything in the whole world. Jesus’ mission had been a success. He had survived the greatest adventure ever and his exploit had come off with honor. The Son of God returned as a scarred but conquering hero and presented his work to God. Heaven heard it being accepted and attested with the great “Well done!” Now the Son was home again where he had always belonged. It was good to be home. But yet there was something altogether strange about it. For the human side of him, this coming into heaven was entirely new. It was the first time anyone who had been flesh and blood had ever passed this way. Christ was a pioneer, and there was a delight to it like making the first tracks in newfallen snow or opening up a new continent. He knew that where he had come others now might follow. God had united himself with something of mankind forever. If man had lost his image of God, God himself had taken on the image of man in Christ. From this fact the human race has gained its highest dignity.

Something of me is already with the ascended Christ in glory. If Christ is in me and I am in Christ, then something of me is not entirely of the earth, earthy. My true life is hidden with Christ in God. My life in this world may be sick or weak, but whatever is of Christ in me is vigorous and strong, rooted in heaven. My human life is easily temptable, but the Christlife in me resists temptation and gives me my highest conscience. I may get upset and discouraged, but only if I forget that in the Ascended One I have peace and joy. The anchor of my little earthly boat reaches deep into the unseen and holds fast in the realm of God. Although I may drift around in circles, the Christ in me will always hold me near to the things that are really important. just because I’m anchored in heaven, however, I can’t expect to escape entirely this world’s winds and waves. I may be tossed about by the storms, yet I know that my boat will never be wrecked on the rocks. My life’s treasure is firmly held in his hands. And where my treasure is, there my heart is also.

Christ’s ascension brought him nearer to us. When I carry a light ahead of me through a crowd without lights, most of the people remain in the shadows. But when I hold my light high, all of the others get some of the light. When the sun shines from on high at noon, everything beneath it is lighted up. As long as Jesus was merely a man in one place at a time, he could not be with everyone at once. But free from our limitations, having ascended into heaven, he could be with each one of us always. From highest heaven he can fill all things with himself and thus bring them to their fulfillment. The sun may be ninety-three million miles away, but its light, heat, and gravitational attraction are right here with us. So, though Christ may be bodily absent, he is nevertheless very present in his Spirit, word, sacraments, and church. He is not only in heaven. He is also a real presence on earth and in paradise. The ascended Christ bridges the ages and the ends of the universe.