Today is Ascension Day, not that I would have known that. One of the things that Baptists do poorly is to follow the “church year.” The church year is the annual retelling of the gospel story. It begins with Advent (the four weeks leading up to the birth of Christ), continues through Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and concludes in November. By following the church year, the gospel story is told again and again, and it leads one to celebrate aspects of the gospel that we so easily forget.
Like Ascension Day.
Acts 1 tells us the story. After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles and many others and spoke about the Kingdom of God for forty days (1.3). After telling them that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, “He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight” (1.9).
Remembering Ascension Day breathes new joy into the followers of Christ. As I was reading the daily readings for the 6th week of Easter, I read some amazing passages of Scripture that led me to rejoice in the meaning of the ascension of our Lord.
For example, in Psalm 47 we read, “Clap your hands, all you nations, shout to God with cries of joy…God has ascended amid shouts of joy…For God is the King of all the earth; sing to Him a psalm of praise.”
Or in Daniel 7, where Daniel was given a dream about the future, he saw the Ancient of Days taking His seat upon the throne. And then he saw the Son of Man approaching the Ancient of Days, and the Son of Man was given “authority, glory, and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshipped Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and His kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (7.14).
Or in Hebrews 2, we read about this Jesus, whom the Father has put everything under Him; there is nothing that is not subjected to Jesus. And God made the author of our salvation perfect through suffering so that He might bring many sons to glory. And then we read, “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers” (2.11).
So, why do we shout for joy on Ascension Day? Why do we clap our hands and sing praises to God? Because all things have been subjected to Him because of His redemptive mission on the cross. Because He reigns over all the nations. Because He has brought many sons to glory, of which I am one of them, through His suffering. Because one day we will see this Son of Man returning to defeat the beast and establish His kingdom that will never end. And because this amazing, awesome King of Kings is not ashamed to call me His brother.
Today I sing, “How awesome is the Lord Most High, the great King over all the earth” (Psalm 47.2).