“Parting is such sweet sorrow.”
So says Juliet to her love, Romeo, as they part ways for the evening. It was a sorrow for Juliet to part with her loved one for a time, but it was made sweet for her when she realized she would be able to see him in the morning.
None of us particularly enjoys parting ways with loved ones—whether it be at the end of the day or the end of one’s life. Parting means separation, having to be apart from those whose company and presence we cherish.
Forty days after God had announced to the world that He accepted Jesus’ payment on the cross for our sins by raising Him from the dead, Jesus “parted” with this world as He visibly and physically ascended into heaven.
The sorrow of this parting is sweetened by the promise of the Ascension angels that we will see Jesus again: “This same Jesus, who
was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him
go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
But do we still have sorrow that Jesus did not remain with us? After all, wouldn’t life in this world be so much better if Jesus were here with us today? How many times haven’t we thought that the Church—and our Christian faith!—would be in better shape if Jesus were still visibly present with us?
Listen to what Jesus told His disciples about His departure: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).
The Savior says that His ascension was to our advantage! This is so because Jesus promises to send the third person of the Holy Trinity—God the Holy Spirit—as our Helper to dwell with us
and in us.
Sending the Helper to us is certainly a good enough reason to rejoice at Jesus’ “parting” on Ascension Day. But the blessings do not end there!
The Apostle Paul writes that when Jesus ascended into heaven, God the Father “put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:22-23).
Jesus is right where the Church needs Him to be! Everything—every nation, every ruler, every earthly power—is under Jesus’ feet and under His control. He is ruling over history for the good of His Church—for the good of every one of His believers!
The fact that Jesus now fills all things means that He is not limited to one physical location at one time. Now He can be with us always, just as He promised (see Matthew 28:20).
Because He ascended, where two or three are gathered in His name He is right there, present with them—also when His people are worshiping at different locations at the same time (Matthew 18:20)!
Because He fills all things, He is able to give His very body and blood in the Lord’s Supper to every communicant wherever they may be—from Nebraska to Nepal.
But wait, there’s more!
The fact that Jesus ascended into heaven means each of us has one of our own—a Brother with flesh and blood just like us—who represents us before the throne of the Almighty! He is our Intercessor who speaks to God in our behalf (Romans 8:34). He is our Mediator—our Bridge whereby we can go to the throne of Almighty God with our every need (1 Timothy 2:5). And His ascension means that He will come again to take His believers to be with Him forever (John 14:3)!
So you see, dear Christian, our Savior and Brother, Jesus, may have “parted” from His believing children, but there is no reason to sorrow—be it sweet or otherwise! Ascension Day is a day to rejoice!
Ascended to His throne on high,
Hid from our sight, yet always nigh;
He rules and reigns at God’s right hand
And has all pow’r at His command.