Reflecting on Truth #51





New City Catechism Question 51

Q: Of what advantage to us is Christ’s ascension?

A: Christ physically ascended on our behalf, just as he came down to earth physically on our account, and he is now advocating for us in the presence of his Father, preparing a place for us, and also sends us his Spirit.

Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. (Romans 8:34)

Why does this matter?

In last week’s catechism question and answer, we were reminded that the resurrection of Christ is perhaps the most essential doctrine of the Christian faith. If Christ did not rise from the dead, our faith is futile and “we are of all people most to be pitied”. However, the Scriptures teach us that Christ’s resurrection was not the end of His duties as our Redeemer and Saviour, but rather that Christ must ascend to be in the presence of the Father to act as our Advocate, to intercede on our behalf, to prepare a place for us, and to send us His Spirit.

In John 16:7, Jesus tells His disciples that it is to their advantage that he goes away, otherwise the Helper will not come to them. But if He goes, He will send the Helper to them. Romans 8:34 and 1 Timothy 2:5 teach us that Christ, the one Mediator between God and men, is now at the right hand of God interceding for His people. In Hebrews 7:25, we are taught that Christ is able to save to the uttermost all those who draw near to God through Him, because He always lives to make intercession for them.

As Christ was preparing His disciples for His ascension, He commanded His disciples to make disciples of all nations, teaching them all that He has commanded them, and to baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. However, right before giving this great commission, Christ proclaims that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him. As one pastor puts it, “The ascension is Christ’s enthronement as King over all.” He is now reigning as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. 1 Corinthians 15:25 teaches us that Christ must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.

What does this mean for us?

This means that the ascended Christ is ruling as King over all, interceding for His people as the exalted High Priest, and sending His Word and His Spirit as the perfect and final Prophet. This Prophet, Priest, and King is also preparing a place for His people (John 14:3) and is therefore working all things together towards a divine end, securing for Himself all those whom the Father has given Him, and He will lose none of them.

We have nothing to fear. Instead, we have much reason to rejoice, to have hope, and to have peace in Christ. With the apostle Paul, we can be assured that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Job acknowledged that the LORD can do all things, and that no purpose of His can be thwarted (Job 42:2). Christ has won, and all His enemies are being put under His feet. It is just a matter of time. Let us rejoice and praise our victorious King, and go and make disciples of all the nations, teaching obedience in all that Christ has commanded us in His Word because He rules over all.

In His ascension, Christ rules over all as Prophet, Priest, and King. May we live obediently and consistently as subjects of the One who now sits at the right hand of God in glory and splendor, who indeed is interceding for us before the Father.