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And Now…the Rest of the Story

• Daniel Baker

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This is our next installment in the COVID Chronicles, a mid-week encouragement to help us “set your minds on things that are above.” That comes from Colossians 3, and right before this Paul says to “seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

That’s what we want to think about now, “where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

Last Sunday we thought about the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Jesus the King. But the resurrection isn’t where the story ends. There’s also his ascension and coronation.

Maybe you’ve seen Netflix’s, The Crown, a retelling of the biography of Queen Elizabeth II. Early in the series they covered her coronation. It was a massive event and when she ascended the throne.

Hundreds of thousands lined the road as her carriage passed, tens of millions on TV. The earthly pageantry was massive: a gold carriage, 8 grey horses (one named Eisenhower), 1820 crown with 1300 diamonds & 169 pearls. It’s not likely to be surpassed by an earthly monarch any time soon.

But…despite all the pageantry and earthly glory, she rules over very little. Really, not even her own country of England.

That’s a powerful contrast with the ascension of Christ—a small private affair, witnessed by a handful. No gold, no diamonds, no TV audience. And yet, when this Christ ascended to his throne, he was absolute reigning monarch over…everything!

Luke captures the ascension of Christ in these words:

As they [disciples] were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, 11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9–11)

“Clouds” are often connected with the glory of God—God’s presence in the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple, the Transfiguration. And notice that repetition of “into heaven.” Four times in two verses. Luke want us to know that Christ is in heaven.

What happened after that? Well, they had already been told to wait. In fact, to “wait for the promise of the Father,” when “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now” (Acts 1:5).

So, they waited. And prayed. For ten days until Pentecost Sunday. On Pentecost Sunday the Ascended Christ receives the Spirit from the Father and then pours him out on his people.

The people of God are now filled with the Holy Spirit in a way they had never been before. The OT has dozens of examples of the Spirit filling people for specific actions—Samson’s displays of power, people prophesying, kings like David being anointed for their tasks.

But this is a universal experience on the church unlike anything before. This is one of the definitive signs of “the last days” (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17). The last days are days of the Spirit, days of a universal experience of the Spirit on all those mentioned in Joel’s prophecy: men, women; young, old; slaves and free.

We don’t tend to connect Jesus ascending to the giving of the Spirit, but we need to. Peter makes it very clear that Jesus ascending is exactly the reason why the Spirit was poured out:

This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. 33 Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. (Acts 2:32–33)

And the apostle Paul makes the same point in Ephesians 4, connecting Jesus ascending to God’s right hand to the giving of spiritual gifts:

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (Eph 4:7–8, citing Ps 68:18)

Why do Christians have spiritual gifts? Because Jesus has ascended to God’s right hand and poured out the Holy Spirit!

Why can Christians be filled with the Holy Spirit in dramatic ways? Because Jesus has ascended to God’s right hand and poured out the Holy Spirit!

But there’s another truth that is precious for us to hear as God’s people. Also connected to the ascension of Christ. The apostle Paul also tells us in Ephesians 2 that because Christ has ascended to God’s right hand and we are in Christ, we, too, are seated with Christ in the heavenly places:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 7 so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2:4–7)

Isn’t that amazing? You and me are “raised…up with him and seated…with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.”

Seated with him implies that we somehow share in his royalty and in his rule. We are more royalty than the greatest kings and queens of history. Their glory was fading and corrupted. Ours is perfect because it isn’t ours, it’s Christ’s. The King of kings and Lord of lords has brought us to himself to be with him forever.

Don’t forget who you are and who you belong to. Whatever your paycheck or your last name or your professional title might say, if you are Christ’s then you are seated with him in the heavenly places.

Thanks for watching (reading). We’ll see you next time.


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