You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 1 Corinthians 6:19b-20
- Many mark the season of Advent (leading up to Christmas), and Lent (leading up to Easter).
- We often take care to note the week beginning with Palm Sunday – Maundy Thursday – Good Friday – Easter Sunday.
- Birth – Death (cross) – Resurrection.
- This is all good.
But there is another event in the life of Jesus that we evangelicals usually skip over.
The New Testament sees a third movement as an essential part of the completion of Jesus’ work: the Ascension.
I think we miss this for a couple of reasons:
- because of our theological and liturgical tradition, many evangelicals reject (sadly) liturgy, often using the excuse of dead repetition, which is hardly worse than the dead repetition of the liturgy of non-liturgical churches;
- but we often miss it because of our failure to read carefully. In Peter’s speech on the Day of Pentecost, the climax of what God has done in Jesus is not the resurrection, but Jesus being ‘exalted to the right hand of God’ (Acts 2:33). In support of this, he cites Psalm 110, the most quoted psalm in the NT, with its imagery of ‘the Lord’ (Messiah) taking his seat at the right hand of ‘the Lord’ (Yahweh, the God of Israel).
We can see how important this is in Paul’s theology. In the hymn in Philippians 2, Paul skips over the resurrection and moves straight from Jesus’ ‘death on the cross’ to his being ‘exalted to the highest place’ (Philippians 2:8–9). It is as if the movement from death to life to glory, in resurrection and ascension, is one movement.
In John’s gospel, Jesus makes reference to this by the garden tomb, telling Mary not to hold on to him because he has not yet ascended, and, intriguingly, the gospel message she is given for the disciples is ‘I am ascending to the Father’ (John 20:17). Luke divides his work into two not on the basis of the resurrection but at the point of the Ascension: In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven… (Acts 1:1–2)
So why do we miss the importance of this?
I could lead us into an exploration of Daniel 7, which is important for understanding the ascension, but I’ll leave us with 4 key words, for why the Ascension is so important in the NT:
- Authority. Jesus is enthroned with the Father. It is because of the Ascension that the lamb who was slain is seated with the one on the throne and shares his worship (Revelation 4). It is in the Ascension that ‘all authority has been given to me’ (Matthew 28:18). And this authority means that Stephen is confident that he is held by a higher power, even to the point of death—his final vision is of Jesus ascended in Daniel 7 terms (Acts 7:55–56)
- Humanity. In the incarnation, God entered into human existence. In the Ascension, that humanity is taken up into the presence of God. We have a High Priest interceding for us who is not unable to sympathise with our challenges, dilemmas, suffering and weakness (Hebrews 4:15–16)
- Responsibility. The Ascension marked the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry; he has now given us the responsibility to continue this work, empowered by the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not distant or indifferent, but he has delegated.
- Fidelity. Jesus ascending in the clouds to heaven promised that he will return ‘in the same way’ (Acts 1:11). His return is never called the ‘second coming’ in the New Testament, because it is not paired with his ‘first coming’ (the Incarnation) but with the Ascension. As God has put all things under his feet, one day his authority de jure will be an authority de facto.
According to John 13:34-35, the agape type of love we share with one another will identify us as genuine followers of Christ. Pray that selfless love will flow from hearts wherever the body of Christ is… whether we are gathered or physically distanced.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20
King Jehoshaphat was commended by the spiritual leaders of his day when, after setting his heart to seek God, he removed the Asheroth (idols) from the land (2 Chronicles 19:3). Pray that we will eagerly, publicly stand against and remove the wicked influences affecting this world, and affirm when it is being done.
There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God. 2 Chronicles 19:3
In this time… I’m never sure if everything changes or if nothing changes.
We get confused as to what day, sometimes what month or season it is.
But in all this, God is with us.
Currently, OCC is not meeting in-person, but OCC is meeting on-line.
Whether you think the restrictions are good or not
- As followers of Jesus, we are called to be different and to live differently in this world.
- As followers of Jesus, we are called to live lives that are empowered by God’s Spirit and so be signs and a foretaste of what the Jesus life is like.
- Whenever new regulations are passed and new laws come down, we are reminded by Paul in Galatians 5 that there are some things against which there is no law. As followers of Jesus we exercise our freedom – our freedom to live out love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Those are the things against which there is no law.
This is what it looks like to live as one who is truly free.
We encourage you to take a few moments as you prepare to watch the video…
- get your coffee or tea, settle in, be still…
- take 2 or 3 deep breaths… in and out… breathe,
- invite the Lord to make himself present with you as you watch – he is with you – it’s just that often we are not aware that he is,
- prepare your heart to listen and receive.
- Read 1 Peter 2:1-10 as you prepare for our time together.
Here is the service for Sunday 9 May.
Brooke Nicolls leads us in worship.
Pastor Mike’s message is from 1 Peter 2
The PowerPoint show and study notes can be found on our sermon page.
OCCkids is meeting online at @9:30am
Meeting ID: 851 0782 7409
Meeting ID: 743 7565 5475
zoom prayer https://zoom.us/j/99544541247?pwd=cU9idG1RNzB3bjdZS3RUdThOalQydz09
Meeting ID: 995 4454 1247
In this new way of being the church, we don’t practice giving by placing our offering in a basket as it is passed. OCCers are generous people. Thank you for your gifts.
- Many give online – etransfer or paypal
- Others mail or drop off cheques
You can find all the ways you can give here.
Orillia Pregnancy Resource Centre
I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you. 1 Chronicles 29:17
King David and his people rejoiced as they gave willingly for the construction of the temple. The Bible describes their hearts as wholly devoted to God (1 Chronicles 29:9). Pray that we today will experience joy as we wholeheartedly give toward God’s redemptive work.
The people rejoiced at the willing response of their leaders, for they had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord. David the king also rejoiced greatly. 1 Chronicles 29:9