And ascended into heaven (Part 1)
We worship the risen and ascended Lord. Christ came to earth in his humiliation, taking the form of a servant in his birth, life, and death. After his humiliation, he was exalted in his resurrection, ascension, his sitting at the right hand of God the Father, and when he returns to judge the world. We do not worship a corpse in a tomb, nor do we worship a risen Lord whose body remained on earth. We worship the risen and ascended Lord. After his resurrection, he conversed with his apostles and others. He gave them the great commission to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:19-20). After forty days since his resurrection, the risen Lord, who is the same God-man, truly God and truly man, visibly went up into the highest heavens.
The Heilberg catechism question 49 asks the question, “What benefit do we receive from Christ’s ascension into heaven?” The catechism gives a three-part answer to the question of the benefits that we receive from His ascension. First, Christ’s mediator’s role continues as our advocate in the Presence of the Father (1 John 2:1). He continues to this day as our mediator, he did not only die for our sins, but when we do sin, we have the ascended into heaven as an advocate for us. The second explanation of Christ’s ascension is that we have a man who has the same flesh as us in heaven. Christ, who has the exact nature as us, is resurrected and ascended. Christ as our head will also take us, the members of his body, up to himself. As Jesus said in John 14:2-3:
“In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2–3, ESV)
Lastly, he ascended into heaven that he could send us the Holy Spirit as our earnest, comforter, and helper. God the Father and God the Son send God the Spirit to us so the Spirit can convict us of sin, show us Christ’s righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11). Christ ascended so the Spirit could descend. The Heidelberg Catechism question focuses on the benefits of Christ’s ascension for us. Next week we will look at the Westminster Larger Catechism, which looks at what Christ does in his ascension.