Ascension and Session
“The Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.”- Mark 16:19
After Jesus rose from the dead, He appeared to His followers and commissioned them to proclaim the gospel to all creation, to every man, woman, and child (Mark 16:9–18). This gospel, we have noted, includes the declaration that Jesus is the Son of God who atoned for sin and rose from the dead to save His people. But there is another important aspect of the gospel that the New Testament gives us. It is found throughout the book of Acts and the Epistles. We are talking about the announcement that Jesus is Lord. As Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).
Proclaiming that Jesus is Lord is the most fundamental Christian creed. The universal lordship of the Messiah finds its roots in passages such as Psalm 110, wherein the God of Israel, the Creator of all things, tells the Davidic king who is also David’s Lord to sit at His right hand in the place of supreme authority. Jesus alludes to this important event when He predicts the Son of Man’s coming on the clouds of heaven, which has reference to His ascension but also to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, which was the visible confirmation of Christ’s lordship (Mark 13:26). This ascension to heaven and session—His being seated at the Father’s right hand—is recorded in many places, including today’s passage (16:19).
The gospel is not simply a message of personal salvation or a declaration related to spiritual things. It is both of those, but it is much more. The gospel also asserts that God has seated Christ “at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Eph. 1:20–21). The Son of God has possessed such authority from all eternity according to His divine nature. In the incarnation, the Son of God took on a human nature and submitted to the Father’s authority as a man while possessing authority fully equal to the Father’s as God. By fulfilling His mission, the incarnate Son received authority to rule and reign over all creation. In His humanity as well as in His deity, the God-man is King over all He has made. He is Lord over all the rulers of the earth. No earthly leader sits over Him, and His law alone is absolute. No one is worthy of higher allegiance than Christ, and where His law conflicts with the laws of lesser authorities, we must obey Christ rather than men.
Christians are called to be good citizens who pay their taxes and pray for their political leaders (Rom. 13:1–7; 1 Tim. 2:1–2). But only One deserves unquestioned allegiance—Jesus Christ. Let us resolve in our hearts now that we will serve Him as Lord of all so that we will be prepared to stand if we must ever suffer for our faith.
Passages for Further Study
1 Corinthians 15:20–28