The next part of the Apostles’ Creed looks at the statement ‘He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from there he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.’ Last night, we looked at the ascension, exaltation and return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

History might be said to look like a V – Christ, being in very nature God, at the heights of glory, took on human nature and ‘descended’ to earth, humbling himself and becoming obedient, even to death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted him and gave him the name that is above every other name. Having looked at Christ’s conception, birth, life, death and resurrection, now we looked at what happened after the Resurrection – for since Christ is alive for evermore, the story continues!

Paul summarises for us in 1 Corinthians 15: “For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.” (1 Cor 15:3-8) We know that Jesus appeared to His disciples for 40 days after His resurrection and was both recognisably Jesus (known by the scars) and different (able to pass through locked doors, for instance.) The story of the Ascension is told in Luke 24:5-53 and Acts 1:1-11.

Jesus had already prophesied that He would return to His Father (see John 14) and told His disciples He was returning to prepare a place for them. He also told them that His return to glory would mean the Holy Spirit could be sent (John 16:7-11). The ascension demonstrated God’s total authority and reminds us that this authority is delegated to Jesus (Matt 28). Robert McKinnon says that “Jesus had to ascend so that we could be empowered, protected and provided for during our walk here on earth” The work of salvation is complete (hence ‘sat down at the right hand of God’) and Jesus is now interceding for us (Heb 7:25).

This shows us an alternative perspective with which to live. “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Col 3:1-4) Our eyes should be fixed on heavenly things: “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Cor 4:18). We can only do this as we grow in our understanding of where Christ is now – in a position of authority, and investing us with authority – and realise He is able to be in that position precisely because He humbled Himself and was obedient, even to death on a cross.