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The Ascension of our Lord: “Not an imaginary friend”


The Ascension rock on Mount of Olives, Jerusal...

The Ascension rock on Mount of Olives, Jerusalem, said to bear the imprint of the right foot of Jesus as he ascended, venerated by Christians as the last point on earth touched by the incarnate Christ. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Ascension of our Lord

St. Peter Lutheran Church

Acts 1:1-11

May 17, 2012

“Not an imaginary friend”

Dear members of Christ’s holy body:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

  1.  Illustration: Imaginary Friends.  It’s sad when people have to comfort themselves with imaginary friends.

 

Also ascension day balloon liftoff—the balloon goes away and gets smaller and smaller.  Then you don’t see it anymore.  It’s kind of sad.  Gone.

 

When we tell ourselves that people we can’t see are still with us, it feels pitiful (at least to me).  Like we see through our own white lies.

 

  1.  For a lot of people Jesus appears to be an imaginary friend.  Perhaps Christians treat Jesus like an imaginary friend.

 

He is not imaginary, though invisible.  But actually more real and more near than things we can touch and feel.  Because He now fills all things as man and God.

  1. The witness the apostles brought was that Jesus is King.  That He ascended and sat on the throne not only as God but also as man.

That His human nature took up the glory communicated to it by personal union.

For us.

As is the head, so is the body.

  1.  So the apostles said Jesus is king.

Daniel: “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the ancient of days….And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away; and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”  (dan 7)

  1.  We by nature, like the kings Daniel and the Jews suffered under, seek to establish our own dominion.  Jesus received his dominion because he patiently endured, trusting the Father.  He didn’t steal it and He didn’t take what was His by right.  He gave it up for us and was exalted.

 

His patient endurance and obedience is counted to us; so we have the right to be called sons of God and to participate in the inheritance of His kingdom…His Spirit.  His throne which He has taken is really our own, because He ascended for us; He raised our nature to the right hand of God, and He has given us the right to participate in the divine nature (2 Peter 1) through His flesh.

 

Jesus is not like the balloon that disappears, that goes away and gets smaller and smaller.  Nor do we call him back down to earth by remembering Him.  He is in His church and with us because He fills all things.  Because He is exalted and reigns at the Father’s right hand.  Our faith, our imagination, do not make Him present.  Rather His presence in word and Sacrament makes our faith.

 

 

  1.  All of that is for us; the might of His glory; His rule and kingdom to be shared with us.  He had this already according to divine nature, but now also as man—and we share in it.  (Now and not yet)
  2. We participate in His ascension as He gives us His spirit in word and sacrament and makes us believe that he did not disappear and is not an imaginary friend, but He is enthroned and His kingdom comes soon.
  3.  But the apostles didn’t really want to be witnesses—martyrs.  They wanted kingdom restored right away.
  4. Us too.
  5. Wanted to see.
  6. Jesus fills all things, but has us as witnesses.
  7. Faith ascends into glory and boldly grabs Christ.
  8. We can’t be witnesses on our own, so Jesus gives us the Spirit that He merited for us.

Since he won our salvation.  Since our head bore our weakness and sin, we are justified.  Since our head is on the throne and has all authority, we have power from on high to make us witnesses, martyrs, becoming like Him in the image of His crucifixion.

 

  1.  We don’t stand looking into the clouds with our mouths open; we know he will come back; His Kingdom will come.  Then we will no longer witness to people who do not see or believe.  But while we await that day, in the certainty that the kingdom is ours, we are his martyrs.  And He is with us, and He pours out His Spirit upon us.
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