A celebration in the exaltation of our Lord preached for St. Martin’s Fort St John.

More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the LORD! Psalm 93:4

Today we are gathered to celebrate the Ascension of our Lord Jesus. We will go wrong if we think about this as some kind of interstellar space travel. This same Jesus who they had known and loved, this same Jesus who had called them to follow him, this same Jesus who they deserted at the crucifixion and who had breathed peace upon him when he had risen, took them back to the Mount of Olives. For forty days he had appeared to them in various places with various purposes. And now before their eyes he who had been brought low was exalted and lifted up into the heavens beyond their sight and hidden by the clouds. Our confession of faith puts it this way: Christ did truly rise again from death, and took again his body, with flesh, bones, and all things appertaining to the perfection of man’s nature; wherewith he ascended into Heaven, and there sits until he will return to judge all men on the last day (Article 4, 39 Articles). Jesus has been given the honour of being taken up to where his Father is.

Hear these praises of God in light of the ascension of Jesus. Psalm 24: Lift up your heads O gates, lift them O everlasting doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he this King of Glory, the Lord strong and mighty, they Lord mighty in battle. Psalm 68: You our King ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your trains and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious that the Lord God may dwell there. Psalm 110: The Lord said to my Lord, “sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool”. From Isaiah 52: Behold, my servant shall prosper, he shall be high and lifted up, he shall be exalted.

What remains of great significance to me is how this fulfills God’s purpose in commissioning humanity. What does he say when he places us in his creation? Let us make man in our image and after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over every creeping thing that crawls upon the earth. So God created man in his own image. In the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them. And God blessed them and God said to them “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.

We were made to rule the Sovereign Lord’s creation in his image and in his name by his blessing. Instead of leading in praise we led it into open rebellion such that the earth brings forth weeds and new life comes with great pain, and with toil we endure. But in Christ the image of God is seated at the right hand of the Sovereign Lord and there participates and fulfills the reign prepared for humanity.

What Jesus brings with him in his exaltation should cause us to tremble. For lifted up in Jesus is our human nature. He brings with him us, our humanity into the very presence of the living God, into companionship and shared monarchy with the king of the universe. If you look at your sin you will be downcast, and should be downcast. But know that by faith his righteousness may be yours. Look up to him who can stand in the presence of the holy God, and let him cast out your righteousness and replace it with his own. Look up. Your humanity is now in heaven. Look up his wounds are now in glory. Look up. For even now as history marches on we are offered the promise that all of the enemies of Jesus are being subdued under his feet.

Revelation envisions this not only as a lifting up but also as a casting down. Where Satan accused humanity of unworthiness, he has now been cast down (Revelation 12:7-12). Where before we had an accuser in the heavenly courts, now we have an advocate and mediator in Jesus Christ. He has gone to prepare a place for us. We have been focusing alot at Good Shepherd and St. Matthias on holding on to the Easter hope even as we suffer in this world. And we will suffer. But on the feast of the Ascension we remember who is Lord and King above and on high in this transitory life.

Set your hearts and minds now upon your ascended King. Let them thither ascend. Every time we worship we should be reaching with our hearts to worship in truth and spirit in the direction of Jesus. And that direction is heaven, is the presence of the living God, is where the angels praise him. Jesus is not now hanging on a cross, is not sacrificed each Sunday in the mass, but is victorious and at rest in that victory. May we taste it now, the reign of humanity victorious over death, in the presence of the Father’s love, in majesty and glory ahead of us.

More majestic than the thunders of mighty waters, more majestic than the waves of the sea, majestic on high is the LORD! Psalm 93:4