Mourning for the Ascension of Christ


hesshusiusThe Magnificent Consolation of Christ’s Ascension

Beloved, you know that in our creed we speak like this: “He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.”  It is for the sake of this article of the faith that we Christians celebrate today’s festival, the joyful Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ…

…These days it is considered brilliant to speak according to the flesh, as if this article of were not a comforting teaching at all…as though God had left us and abandoned the world.  Indeed, the way the Zwinglians* preach of the Ascension, they really ought to be mourning instead of rejoicing.  They claim that Christ’s body is many thousand miles away from us, and that it will not come near again until the Last Day.

Whether that is the joy and consolation of a believing heart, which has its highest delight in the Savior Jesus Christ, a Christian may consider for himself.

Our reason also creates such thoughts about Christ’s ascension, as though it meant that He had left us.  If the Lord Christ had taken His Apostles’ advice as to whether He should ascend to heaven, without doubt they would have begged that He not allow Himself to die, as Peter asked and even admonished Him.  “That will never happen to you, my Lord!” he said.  Such thoughts come often to us also, so that we wish that the dear Lord Christ were remaining with us on earth instead of seeking Him in heaven.

But this comes about because people do not look at this article of the faith correctly, nor rightly understand the Lord’s power.  The Lord Christ is by no means absent from us now that He has ascended.  Rather He has made Himself even nearer to His whole Christendom than He was before.  He has conquered heaven, is seated at the right hand of God, and has prevailed over the wretchedness of this world, so that He is with all Christians until the end of the age.  Therefore we should learn to correctly understand this article of Christ’s Ascension, so that we might seize hold of its magnificent consolation.

Tilemann Heshusius (1527-1588) (Lutheran Pastor and Theologian), from “Sermon on the Day of the Ascension of Christ.”  Postilla: that is, explanation of the Sunday Gospels throughout the whole year.  (1590)

 

*Zwinglians—followers of Ulrich Zwingli, a Swiss reformer who denied that Jesus’ body and blood were present in and with the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper

Extended excerpt:

Beloved, you know that in our creed we speak like this: “He ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.”  It is for the sake of this article of the faith that we Christians celebrate today’s festival, the joyful Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, in order that we may publicly confess before it before all the world.  Moreover on the festival of the Ascension we publicly give thanks for this wonderful work of God—that He has set His Son as the head of the whole of Christendom.  Finally, we also keep this festival so that we might learn thoroughly to understand this teaching, be made certain of it by the witness of the Holy Scripture, and pay attention to it—so that we might comfort ourselves with Christ’s Ascension no matter what kind of attacks from the devil and other distresses we might undergo.  However, our reason and understanding are completely opposed to this article of the faith, just as with all the others.  So we can only learn this article from God’s Word, and likewise, we can only keep it and receive its proper comfort from the Scriptures as well.

After all, who with his reason and understanding is able to grasp that a real human being, who was so despicably executed and put to death, and then laid in the grave for three days, should by His own power rise again from the dead?  Whose reason is able to grasp that, after letting Himself be seen over the course of forty days, He visibly ascended into heaven, and seated Himself at the right hand of the majesty of God, and now reigns over all things with the same glory and power as God?

Because human reason would never imagine the ascension of Christ, nor believe it, God has revealed this great mystery, and caused it to be brought to us in preaching.  He wants us to learn of Christ’s ascension from His Word, and firmly believe it, drawing all consolation from it.

But these days it is more impressive to speak according to the flesh as if this article were not a comforting doctrine at all, and as if this festival brings more sorrow than joy.  All other festivals are full of joy and comfort, which declare how the eternal God has treated us, how He has gloriously revealed Himself, bringing with Him heaven and the fullness of its treasures…But on the day of the Ascension of Christ, it is possible to look at it as though God has gone away from us and forsaken the world.  Indeed, the way the Zwinglians (the protestants who denied that Jesus’ body and blood were present in and with the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper—forefathers of today’s Baptists, Methodists, Non-denominational Christians, etc.)  preach of the Ascension, they really ought to be more sorrowful than joyful.  They claim that Christ’s body is many thousand miles from us, and that it will not come near again until the Last Day.  Whether that is the joy and consolation of a believing heart, which has its highest delight in the Savior Jesus Christ, a Christian may consider for himself.  Our reason also creates such thoughts about Christ’s ascension, as though He had gone away from us.  If the Lord Christ had taken His Apostles’ advice as to whether He should ascend to heaven, without doubt they would have begged that He not allow Himself to die, as Peter asked and even admonished Him.  “That will never happen to you, my Lord!” he said.  Such thoughts come often to us also, so that we wish that the dear Lord Christ were remaining with us on earth instead of our seeking Him in heaven.

But this comes about because people do not look at this article of the faith correctly, nor rightly understand the Lord’s power.  The Lord Christ is by no means absent from us now that He has ascended.  Rather He has made Himself even nearer than He was before to His whole Christendom.  He has conquered heaven, is seated at the right hand of God, and prevailed over the wretchedness of this world, so that He is with all Christians until the end of the age.  Therefore we should learn to correctly understand this article of Christ’s Ascension, so that we might seize hold of its magnificent consolation.

Tilemann Heshusius (1527-1588) (Lutheran Pastor and Theologian), from “Sermon on the Day of the Ascension of Christ.”  Postilla: that is, explanation of the Sunday Gospels throughout the whole year.  (1590)

 

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2012/05/17/the-ascension-of-our-lord-not-an-imaginary-friend/

https://deprofundisclamaviadtedomine.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/prayer-for-the-day-of-the-ascension-of-our-lord/

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  1. May 20, 2013 at 6:01 am

    Tilemann Heshusius sees it rightly to say Jesus is in heaven but can also be with us at the same time, him overlooking everything that happens.

    • May 20, 2013 at 9:53 pm

      No, that isn’t what he is saying at all. He’s saying that Jesus’ human nature participates in the attributes of the Divine Nature and therefore is omnipresent not only according to his divine nature but his humanity.

  1. May 6, 2013 at 9:38 pm
  2. May 9, 2013 at 5:13 pm

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