Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. -Romans 8:34-37
In between Jesus’ death, resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit was an event that perhaps gets the least attention in most Christian circles today. However, it is the event that made possible the coming of the Spirit and also continues to provide protection and provision in our lives as believers today. When we fix our eyes on this truth, it is also where we find confidence, as it addresses our anxiety, fears, worries and needs. In fact, I believe it may be for lack of understanding this truth that we find so much insecurity in our lives today.
The event I am referring to is the ascension of Jesus and his “sitting down at his Father’s right hand.” This has been part of the historic Christian creed for centuries, but I fear too many of us really have no idea what this practically means in our lives today. So, may the Holy Spirit illuminate this truth and make it applicable in a way that we leave rejoicing in the security we have in Christ.
Did you ever wonder what Jesus has been doing these last two thousand years? We have been waiting his Second Coming for all this time, but what is Jesus doing? At a surface level, “sitting down at His Father’s right hand” sounds quite passive doesn’t it? Is he just kind of chilling in heaven, while the world seems to come unglued and our lives feel out of control?
The truth couldn’t be further from this lie! The imagery being provided by Jesus “sitting down at his Father’s right hand” simply speaks to his finished work on the cross in paying in full the penalty for our sins. In regard to satisfying our sin debt, there is no price left to pay. As Jesus cried out on the cross, it is finished!
However, we all know we continue to stumble and fall short of God’s glory even upon being saved. We also face all kinds of battles, spiritual warfare and very challenging situations or difficult circumstances beyond our control. And this is where the ascension and continual faithful intercession of Jesus comes into play. As the passage above states, Jesus is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. The application and assurance given immediately following this is that this is why we need not have any fear or doubts, because nothing in life, no matter how challenging, will ever be able to separate us from God’s love. Because he has ascended in complete victory, we too are more than conquerors through the One who has perfectly loved us and completely overcome on our behalf!
I like to remind my children that Jesus is doing two primary things right now. He is praying (interceding) for us and preparing a place for us. We have even imagined what kind of place he is preparing for us and spent time dreaming about what that might be like. But we have spent less time focusing on Christ’s intercession for us, even though that is what currently provides all things for us right now, and protects us from all that would threaten to separate us from God’s great love for us.
While it would take too long to cover all aspects of what Jesus’ ascension means for us today, one of those aspects is that because Jesus is Sovereign over all, there is no greater authority above him. This is what gives us assurance, security and confidence in knowing that not only is God for us in principle and with us through his very presence in the person of the Holy Spirit, but he also possess all authority over every other authority that would threaten us, accuse us, condemn us or undo us. One of my favorite Hymns puts it this way:
Before the throne of God above
I have a strong, a perfect plea;
A great High Priest, whose Name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart;
I know that while with God He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Notice, Christ’s ascension enables us not to look within to summon a strength and confidence we don’t possess in and of ourselves (as self-help therapy tries to falsely assure us of), nor around at our circumstances (which can change suddenly at a moment’s notice), but upward to the only Perfect and Faithful One who rules and reigns as Sovereign over all. Our confidence comes not from within, not from around, but from looking upward to Christ who has triumphed over all and rules over all!
It is in the reality of Christ’s ascension as rightful heir to the throne and triumphant conqueror over sin and death, that we find confidence in our lives today. It is because he ever lives to intercede on our behalf that we find courage to face whatever circumstances we find ourselves in, fight whatever battles we fight, or deal with any situations that come our way. It is because of his ascension and intercession that we find security that he is able to fully save, sustain, protect, and provide for our every need.
It is because Christ has ascended in triumphal victory, now crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9) that we find assurance that we too are victorious and more than conquerors, as he did this all for us out of his great love towards us. It is because of his ascension that we find assurance of our salvation and belonging to his family forever. It is because of his ascension and intercession that we can be confident that all the mercy, grace and wisdom we ever need are available to us in and through Christ who serves as our merciful and faithful high priest in heaven (Hebrews 2:17-18). We can be strong in intercession and prayer because he is perfectly strong in intercession and prayer for us.
As the world is being shaken and all seems like chaos around us, we need not be shaken or afraid, for Jesus has ascended and is faithfully interceding on our behalf.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven,Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. -Hebrews 4:14-16