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Ascension. Meaning and significance of Ascension

The Ascension is celebrated 40 days after the Resurrection, on the Thursday of the 6th week after Easter. This year we celebrate it on 2 June. It is also known as Ispas. On this day Christians greet each other with “Christ is risen!” and “Truly He is risen!”. The Ascension of the Lord had witnesses, it was a light-filled parting, for the disciples returned to Jerusalem “with great joy”. For this reason, there is no greeting in our service books similar to the one at Easter.

The Ascension of the Lord is one of the oldest Christian feasts, as mentioned in the Apostolic Constitutions. The earliest mention of the Feast of the Ascension of the Lord is found in Eusebius of Caesarea, in his work “On the Feast of the Passover”, composed in 332.

Christ ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives, in the sight of the Apostles and two angels. The angels spoke to the disciples about Christ’s second coming, so that they would not be overwhelmed by the pain of parting.

What is the Ascension?

On the fortieth day after the Resurrection, the Saviour again appeared to His disciples, took them with Him, and they left Jerusalem. They went up the Mount of Olives and spoke to them for the last time, telling them not to leave the city until they had received the Holy Spirit; then to go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all nations.

As a lot of people already know, Ascension is one of the twelve great royal feasts of our Church and is always celebrated on the Thursday of the sixth week after Easter, forty days after the Resurrection. On this day we commemorate the moment when, in the presence of His Apostles, the Saviour Christ ascended to heaven from the Mount of Olives.

The Saviour raised His hands and blessed them all. And as he blessed them and they worshipped him, a cloud covered him and they saw him no more. Two angels dressed in white robes then stood by the disciples and told them that the Saviour had ascended to God the Father and that he would come again at the end of time to judge all men according to their deeds.

Read also: St. Gregory the Great. Feast of St. Gregory the Great

What was the role of Jesus Ascension?

Fulfilling the ordinance for us, and uniting earthly things with heavenly things, You have exalted Yourself to glory, O Christ our God, from whence You have never departed; but remaining undivided, You cry out to those who love You: I am with you and no one against you.

The sight of Jesus’ ascension came to give the apostles supreme confidence in His deity. The promise of the sending of the Spirit as power from above confirmed their belief that he is the Son of the Father, who had told them that in this capacity he would send them the Spirit from the Father, who proceeds from the Father, or whom the Father would send in his name (cf. John 15:26; 14:26) and who would teach them all truth, taking it from himself (cf. John 16:13-14).

Therefore, when they saw Him ascending, they worshipped Him, and He blessed them. The full sense of his deity removed from them any fear they had had when he was taken to the crucifixion. Though they remained visibly without Him, they were now filled with “great joy” (Luke 24:50-52). They experienced the presence of God close to them. With them were the women, among whom and his mother and his “brothers”, that is, his relatives in the flesh, but also many others who had often been with him and had seen him risen, and perhaps some who had also been present at His ascension.

Read also: Feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Significance of the Baptism of the Lord

How many days after the Resurrection did the invalidation of Jesus take place?

From the Bible, we learn that after the Resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared to the disciples for 40 days and then ascended into heaven in their presence. So the apostles witnessed this event. In the people, there is also said to have been another witness, named Ispas. A shepherd who was hiding behind the stones and then told what he saw.

Forty days after His Resurrection, the Saviour Christ ascended into heaven. The Gospels tell us briefly about this moment. St Mark the Evangelist mentions it in a single verse, and St Luke the Evangelist gives more details. The Ascension of the Lord urges us to spiritual elevation, asking us to overcome the things that bind us too much to the earth and to lift our minds and hearts to heaven.

It is also said in the Bible that Christ prophesied his return and entrusted the apostles to send him the Holy Spirit, which he did ten days later, at Pentecost, that is, Pentecost.

Read also: What is Corpus Christi and why is it celebrated?

In the presence of how many apostles did the Ascension take place?

But Christ kept His humanity in a state before the ascension, for forty days, capable of descending to a visible relationship with men, capable also by their spiritual way of perceiving through it the divinity of which it was full in its resurrection state. He kept His humanity in this state for a while, to be able to convince the disciples of His resurrection.

The ascension into heaven was again not in the presence of a single Apostle, but in the presence of three known Apostles, so it could be said that this could have been the subjective illusion of the one. He prepared all the Apostles and others for it, and it took place in the presence of all. By this, they were again really convinced that the One who ascended was not a mere man, but true God, but also a man.

Before Christ ascended before them, he again affirmed his deity, commanding them to be his witnesses in all the world, “to the ends of the earth”. His ascension was also an act that convinced them of his deity so that, after seeing him ascend, they returned from the Mount of Olives to Jerusalem, sitting in the upper room in prayer.

Read also: What Was the Transfiguration of Jesus?

Key Verse related to The Ascension of Jesus Christ

“When you went to bed last night Jesus was at work subduing his enemies. While you slept he was continuing to rule over the world. He was still at it when you woke up this morning and even now as you read this. That is the outrageous claim of the ascension.”
Tim Chester & Jonny Woodrow

Ascension

What did Jesus do from the Resurrection to the Ascension?

As witnesses to the Resurrection, the basis of their preaching, they proclaimed the words of the Gospel in different places with unparalleled enthusiasm and zeal. Summing up what happened immediately after the Resurrection, St. Paul, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians, 15th chapter, tells us that after the Resurrection from the dead, the Saviour appeared to the miraculous women, to the 11 Apostles and about 500 brethren gathered in one place.

According to biblical sources, from the Resurrection to the Ascension, the Saviour Jesus strengthened the disciples, who, fearful as they were, hid in their houses for fear of the Jews, most of them not having the courage to accompany the Lord to Calvary to be with him at the moment of crucifixion on the cross.

Nor did they have the courage to go with the miraculous women to the tomb on the first day of the week, early in the morning, to fulfil the Jewish tradition. As soon as they saw him risen, the disciples were changed, they became fearless. The resurrection changed them and the whole world.

Read also: Why do St. Peter and Paul share a feast day?

What did the disciples do after the ascension?

The Saviour had prepared them sometime before, told them several times about His coming sufferings, but also mentioned that He would go and cook for them. When they were grieved at this parting, He strengthened the word, saying: Unless I go, I will not send you the Comforter who will teach you all, by which is not meant that He did not teach enough, but that they, the disciples, could not understand all the words which the Lord expounded during His saving activity.

The Gospel tells us that after the Ascension, the Lord’s disciples returned from Mount Eleon with great joy and preached the gospel and what they had seen. We would at first be grieved and wonder how they could return with great joy after parting from their Teacher to whom they were accustomed, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

The Feast of the Ascension shows that there are also separations that bring joy, such as the Savior’s separation from the disciples who returned joyfully to Jerusalem. For he had told the disciples before: Behold, I am with you to the end of the ages and taught them what they must do in the time between the Resurrection and His Ascension into heaven to change the world.

Read also: All Saints’ Day. What Is The History And Meaning Of This Feast?

Significance of Ascension

Christ’s ascension to glory and His residence at the right hand of the Father is the image of the full deification of His humanity. By all His acts, incarnation, death, and resurrection, He gradually deified the human nature which He assumed, but by His Ascension He fully transfigured it.

The significance of this event of the Ascension of the Lord into Heaven is one of joy because it symbolizes the fact that Jesus went out into a world of golden streets to prepare the way for us. The blessing of the Lord brings human worship which in turn brings spiritual joy.

And from joy is born praise and prayer. St. Luke the Evangelist tells us, “And as he blessed them, he ascended into heaven. And they, worshipping him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they were all the while in the temple, praising and blessing God.” (Luke 24:51-53)

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Primary Takeaways

  • Because of the supreme transfiguration of His body, Christ can become interior to those who believe in Him. The ascension of the Lord does not mean His withdrawal from creation, for He continues to be present and at work through the Holy Spirit.
  • The bodily ascension into heaven is a testimony to the fact that man was created for eternity, for the Son does not only appear to the Father as God but also as Man.
  • Christ by His Ascension does not only show where man is to reach but makes Himself the way and the power, that man may reach this state. He sits on the divine throne of glory, but He also dwells in the hearts of those who love Him.

Read also: If Jesus Was without Sin, Then Why Was He Baptized?

Conclusion

For the Church, through the Resurrection and Ascension, a new age has begun to dawn, the age of the future and eschatological restoration to the glory of God, since through these events we not only have a rising of Christ to power and glory, but also a lifting of man to soteriological and eschatological wholeness. Those who accept faith in the Resurrection and Ascension are turned towards the future and the coming again of Christ.

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Quizlet about the Ascension of Jesus

Ascension Day

1 / 10

What is Pentecost?

2 / 10

The Holy Spirit come on Pentecost because it was about to offer deliberation from the of ____ death and sin.

3 / 10

How is Pentecost also called?

4 / 10

How many spiritual gifts really exist?

5 / 10

Spiritual gifts are the gifts and _____ of the Holy Spirit.

6 / 10

Is mercy a spiritual gift?

7 / 10

When did Jesus talked about The Holy Spirit?

8 / 10

Did Nicodemus had the holy Spirit inside him?

9 / 10

What happened after Matthew received the Holy Spirit?

10 / 10

Who invented the Holy Spirit?

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Bibliography

  • Farrow, D. (2004). Ascension and Ecclesia. A&C Black.
  • Fitzmyer, J. A. (1984). The ascension of Christ and Pentecost. Theological Studies45(3), 409-440.
  • Spiro, A. (1953, January). The ascension of Phinehas. In Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research (Vol. 22, pp. 91-114). American Academy for Jewish Research.
  • Sleeman, M. (2009). Geography and the ascension narrative in acts (Vol. 146). Cambridge University Press.
  • Daly, R. A. (1925, June). The geology of Ascension island. In Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Vol. 60, No. 1, pp. 3-80). American Academy of Arts & Sciences.