Ephesians 3:1-13, Romans 11:1-36, Revelation 7:9-12
Ever heard the old saying, “Hidden in plain sight?”
Sometimes, in our Christian language, we can say something so many times that we forget what we are actually saying. I know this takes place when we say the Nicene Creed every Sunday. We say something so many times (which is a wonderful practice) that we can forget what it is we are actually confessing. One of those parts that we tend to say without fully grasping the reality of it is the part about Jesus ascending. The Creed states, “He ascended into Heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.”
You just read one of the thickest, richest portions of Holy Scripture you will ever read. However, it can be easy to miss; not because it is hiding from us, but because we typically don’t bring the right kind of lens to the reading. We don’t read it through the lens of the Ascended Lord. We have typically narrowed the Gospel message to crucifixion and resurrection. Crucifixion reveals and deals with our sin. Resurrection gives us victory over it. But ascension shows us where we belong, who we are called to be, what God’s plan has been all along. God and man were meant to dwell together. Christ is still human and divine. He is in the throne room with God.
To read Ephesians without the Ascension front and center is to miss Ephesians altogether. Look how Paul has set this up: read Ephesians 1:9-12, 1:20-23, and 2:6-10. God’s plan is to make us co-heirs with Christ, who is seated above all things, and for us to be seated with Him. Christ has made a way for humanity and God to dwell together because He is fully human and has the authority in Heaven to gather all things into Himself.
It is for this reason that Paul has become a prisoner. What Paul has discovered through the Holy Spirit is that Christ holds all of humanity within Himself. Not only Jew, but also Gentile. So through Jesus—the ascended, human Jesus— we have been brought near to God if we are in Him. And we have become members of His body— His Ascended Body. This is not some ethereal reality, this is tangible. We are Christ’s body and Christ’s body is ascended. So, when Paul comes to the end of this portion of Scripture, he reminds us that God’s eternal purpose has been carried out in Christ Jesus. Now we have access to God in boldness and confidence through the faithfulness of Christ.
As you go about your day, thankful for the crucifixion and resurrection, remember that you have already been brought near to God through Christ. The Ascended Lord has gathered you up in His body, the Church, and is already giving you a foretaste of the heavenly life.
written by Father Aaron Wright