This post may be a bit premature considering we are in the midst of the Lenten season and Ascension Sunday is not until May 13. Nonetheless, I was struck in Luke’s account of the ascension in Luke 24 and Acts 1 about the continuing role of the ascended Christ to his elect. The Reformation Study Bible’s notes on the ascension helped crystallize my thoughts as well. As explained in the notes, the ascension of Christ established three facts:
1. Christ’s personal ascendancy: Not necessarily a literal ascending upwards into the clouds as his final destination (it is instead a sign of exaltation, authority, and God’s presence), but a coming into His rule over the universe at the Father’s right hand.
2. Christ’s spiritual omnipresence: Seated at the right hand of the Father, Christ is accessible to all who call upon His name.
3. Christ’s heavenly ministry: Interceding for His people for the Father.
This third point especially struck me. Intercession does involve supplication on our behalf as we pray, which is how I mainly thought of Christ’s intercessory ministry. But if Christ’s intercessory ministry was only this supplication on our behalf, it would be left as merely one of reactive sympathy, without the status or authority (p. 1505) that He rightly possesses.
The other main aspect of this intercession that was lost on me is “intervention in our interest…In sovereignty He now lavishes upon us the benefits that His suffering won for us. From His throne He sends the Holy Spirit constantly to enrich His people and equip them for service.” As Paul writes in Ephesians 4 in the context of the Body and unity, when He ascended, “He led a host of captives and He gave gifts to men.” When Christ does make requests of the Father, but He also providentially and sovereignly works on our behalf for our good by continually giving us gifts. His intercessory ministry is anything but passive or reactive, but is living and active!