In our series titled, “The Way of the Word”, we have considered the Eternal Word before time and space and in the beginning. We have considered the Word in the world prior to the incarnation, the Word incarnate and, the resurrected Word. This week in part six of our seven part series we consider the ascended Word.
So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven." NRS Acts 1:6-11
Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. NRS Luke 24:50-51
Notice that Jesus Christ, prior to the ascension, interacted with the disciples just as he always did, albeit now in a form that fully displays the incarnation. When Jesus Christ ascended he did so bodily. He did not ascend just in spirit, leaving his body behind, but ascended spirit, soul, mind and body in the fullness of humanity and divinity, as God incarnate. At the culmination of Jesus Christ’s 40 days of post-resurrection appearances where he displayed the fullness of the incarnation he then ascended. Did he ascend with the same fully human and fully divine properties of the incarnation? Our position throughout has been that the incarnation was and is the Word, which always was and always will be, now perfectly united with humanity: humanity and divinity in perfect hypostatic union without change, confusion, or mixture, separation and division, in Christ Jesus, the Son of God. And the reason for the incarnation was for the salvation of God’s beloved people, us. In this union, which we have referred to as The Jesus Paradox, we see on display, in all its glory, for all to see; God’s Love, power, glory, and God’s very presence with us.
He is the reflection of God's glory and the exact imprint of God's very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. NRS Hebrews 1:3a
God’s divinity glorified the flesh, without transforming its essential nature. In so doing, a great healing and purification that establishes new birth occurs. With this comes an awareness of our true nature. The darkness that covered our hearts, so as to obscure Love in whose image we were created, is removed. We are graced with the ability to peer into the holy of holies, our inner most place where God resides. In this, blindness ends. And as the scales fall from our eyes we become aware and responsive to the Reality of God’s presence as well as our own Reality by which we see and begin to experience who we truly are, as those who have been created in the image and likeness of God: in the image and likeness of Love. This is a great awareness!
When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, NRS Hebrews 1:3b
Thus, to say, when the ascension occurred, that Christ then separated from the flesh, from humanity, is to undo all that Christ Jesus had come to accomplish. Salvation could only be maintained by the perpetual union of divinity and humanity “in Christ Jesus”, who is the ongoing purifying, life giving agent for all humanity, accomplished as he maintains the human/divine identity of the incarnation as described above. Jesus Christ was, is, and will always be the central figure for the salvation of human kind and all creation. This is why it is absolutely essential that we keep ourselves in a position to be, by God’s grace, open to experiencing and responding to the great reality of God’s perpetual incarnation in Christ Jesus, who sits at the right hand of the Majesty on high, interceding right now, able to do so because of his fully human and fully divine nature. Not as two natures tenuously, tentatively, or temporarily connected, but as two natures (human and divine) united as one without doing violence, or changing either, in any manner, except to enhance what which already exists. It is this Jesus Christ who is the first fruit of the resurrected. But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died. 21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. NRS 1 Corinthians 15:20-22 It is in this Christ Jesus in which we live, breath and have our being. It is this Jesus Christ, glorified and sitting at the right hand of Majesty, now beyond the constraint of time and space, who ascended, who intercedes for us, and who, as we will consider next week, indwells all who wish to receive the gift of eternal life. May God Bless you All, Gene Yotka
Salvation could only