7 Implications of Jesus’ Ascension (Steve Walton)

Steve Walton

Steve Walton states that Jesus’ ascension “expresses the Christian conviction that Jesus now reigns over the universe” (59) and “The ascension of Jesus … provides the apostles with a visual demonstration of the truth of Jesus’ exalted status” (60).

In addition to these summary-type statements, he provides 7 significant theological implications of the ascension.

(1) The ascension implies that Jesus now reigns alongside God in heaven, and thus it is appropriate to call him *“Lord” as well as “Messiah” (Acts 2:36). The (singular) cloud (Acts 1:9) echoes the one in Luke 21:27 on which the *Son of Man comes to God (cf. Dan 7:13), clearly placing Jesus alongside Israel’s God. Thus Jesus, still human, is to be *worshiped (Lk 24:52) alongside Yahweh, and the portrait of Israel’s God expands (Johnson). Psalm 110 (esp. Ps 110:1, 4) was a key biblical passage that was interpreted (following Jesus’ own lead [Mk 12:35–37]) concerning Jesus, who is thus to be understood as having been enthroned at God’s right hand as coruler (e.g., Rom 8:34; Heb 10:12–13).

(2) The ascension presages Jesus’ return to earth from heaven (Acts 1:11; cf. Heb 9:28). That return will be the time of cosmic renewal and restoration promised in Scripture (Acts 3:20–21) and of *judgment (Acts 17:31). The cloud—a key marker of Jesus’ departure (Acts 1:9)—became an emblem of Jesus’ return in early Christian writing (e.g., 1 Thess 4:17; Rev 1:7; 14:14–16). Paul picks up Psalm 110:1 as testimony that the time will come when God will place Jesus’ enemies under his feet (1 Cor 15:25–26). The ascension is “the advance notice of the end” (Robinson, cited in Zwiep, 196).

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New York Times, you had one job.

Last year the New York Times had a major journalist oopsy as they described the Christian holiday of Easter as a celebration of Christ’s “resurrection into heaven.”

Um, no. That doesn’t even make any theological sense. Easter is not the celebration of Christ’s ascension, if that’s what you were trying to describe. We do believe and celebrate the ascension. But we don’t conflate it with the resurrection.

Well, this year, they’ve done it again. Recently they described the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as the place “where many Christians believe that Jesus is buried.”

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