Thursday, May 05, 2016

Who Was Responsible for the Ascension of Jesus?

Or, to put it another way:

Did Jesus ascend into heaven by His own power or did the Father raise Jesus into heaven?

Before we can answer this question, we need to define some terms, because sometimes people get the Ascension confused with the Resurrection. The “Resurrection” is when the human soul of Jesus returned from Hades and brought His body in the tomb back to life again. The “Ascension” occurred 40 days later when Jesus rose, body and soul, into heavenly glory.

Now, there are some passages in Scripture that portray the Ascension as something that happened to Jesus. In other words, He is the passive recipient of what is taking place. For example:
  • Mk 16:19 “The Lord Jesus … was taken up into heaven”
  • Lk 24:51 “he … was carried up into heaven”
  • Acts 1:9 “he was lifted up, and a cloud took him”
  • Phil 2:9 “God has highly exalted him”
  • 1 Tim 3:16 “He was … taken up in glory”
  • 1 Pet 1:21 “God raised him from the dead and gave him glory”
  • Rev 12:5 “was caught up to God and to his throne”

However, there are other passages that portray Jesus as the actor, as the one doing the ascending Himself:
  • Eph 4:8 “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives”
  • Eph 4:10 “he … ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things”
  • Heb 9:12 “he entered once for all into the holy place”
  • Heb 9:24 “Christ has entered … into heaven itself”
  • 1 Pet 3:21-22 “Jesus Christ ... has gone into heaven”
  • Rev 3:21 “I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne”

This means that we cannot give an “either / or” answer to the question of who is responsible for the Ascension. This was the work of our trinitarian God. All three Persons of the Trinity were involved.

Happy Solemnity of the Ascension!

Pax Christi,

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