By Nick Batzig
I’ve always loved worshipping at churches in which the congregants hold out their hands, at the end of the service, to symbolize their expectant reception of the blessing of God when the minister lifts his hands to pronounce the benediction. I suppose I first came to love this aspect of worship when I realized that it was the last thing Jesus did during His earthly ministry.
As He ascended to heaven, Jesus lifted up His hands and pronounced a blessing over His disciples. How fitting that this was His last act on earth since Jesus ascended to heaven as our great High Priest, in order to continue the work of redemption on our behalf in the presence of God.
The ascension is one of the most wonderful and yet overlooked acts of God in redemptive history. It not only teaches us that “the body of Jesus has a zip code,” as Derek Thomas has so illustratively captured it; it reminds us that we have a Savior who is continuing His work on our behalf, as our Priest, having already offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of our sins.
In the Old Testament, the priest carried the sacrifice into the most holy place in the Temple while he also carried the names of God’s people into the presence of God on his breastplate. His work as the people’s representative was to sacrifice and intercede for them.
This is a divinely inspired picture of what we all need. We are sinners and, as such, need a Priest to represent us before the presence of our infinitely holy God. Jesus Christ is that priest. All of the blessings of God have been secured for us by His perfect life and atoning death, making His ascension and continual intercession for us a constant source of confidence in His grace.
The writer of Hebrews calls the hope that we have on account of Jesus’s ascension “an anchor for the soul” (Heb. 6:19). We are anchored in glory because Christ has ascended to the Father.
When we see the enormity of our sin and feel the doubts rising in our hearts, we must look, by faith, at the nail-pierced hands of Jesus. Jesus has lifted up His hands as symbols of His redeeming work, even as He was lifted up to glory, to pronounce the eternal blessings of God on those for whom His hands were pierced.
Written By Nick Batzig