“After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.” Acts 1.9
I know Jesus had to go into heaven, but sometimes I wonder why? Why didn’t he just stay, live out his life in his glorified state? Why didn’t he continue to raise up disciples, bring God’s Kingdom to earth, and move us into glory? (For a great article on why Jesus ascended read — https://media.ascensionpress.com/2017/05/24/jesus-ascend-heaven-answers-scripture-aquinas/ ).
Jesus went to heaven for many reasons. John 14 says he went to prepare a place for us…”I am going to prepare a place for you and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” John 16 says that if Jesus didn’t go then the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, could not come. Jesus also went to intercede for us to the Father (John 17).
Jesus had to go to heaven to prepare a place for us, set for us an example, complete the holy sacrifice, sit at the right hand of God to judge the nations and intercede for us. Besides, there was much work on earth for us to do. The birth of the church was occurring. Salvation had just been made accessible to both Jews and Gentiles. And Jesus was sending his Holy Spirit so that the church might be evangelists to the world and that people might know the love of God.
And as a result, Jesus was taken up to heaven before their very eyes and a cloud hid him from their sight. It’s powerful and anti-climactic all at once. We know that he will return just as he left, but is that all? Is Jesus really gone? Can you imagine the conversations among his followers?
“Omg. Did you see that?”
“Where did he go?”
“What do we do next?”
“Is he still up there, hiding behind that cloud?”
The ascension is truly a mystery! Jesus going up into the sky and disappearing behind a cloud is honestly strange. Does he simply fade into the spiritual realm? Seated beside God 1000 ft in the air looking down on humanity? It’s mind boggling to me.
But what is sensible in my mind is his leaving so we might receive something just as good. He left so we might know him better. Before Jesus was walking among the disciples but now he will walk within them. Again, a huge mystery.
The hope of Heaven is that one day he will return. But until then, we await, with the Holy Spirit dwelling in believers, doing the work of God, for the church and for the sake of the world from generation to generation.
“O Lord God, I realize I am a part of a two thousand year story. What I’ve captured in my heart, billions have experienced. The knowledge of the Holy is beautiful and unmistakable.