The Father’s Humility in the Ascension

Humility is magnetic. We are all drawn to people who consistently honor others and draw little attention to self. This magnetism increases with power. In other words, people in positions of authority who engage with humility are especially drawing. Why? Because they have influence and an ability to use their authority in other ways. I experience this on a personal level every day. I have some of the most humble leaders imaginable in my place of work. Their use of authority is a breath of fresh air.

Consider the difference between humble and proud people in these positions: landlord, boss, CEO, judge, mayor, governor, president. Humility is all the more compelling when experienced in those who have greatest influence. Now consider this, the most powerful and influential being in the universe is also the most humble. Humility marks everything he does.

We have observed the way the Father honors the Son in eternity past, in creation, in the incarnation, and at the cross. In this post we take it a step further to the ascension. In this event, will see compelling humility yet again.

The Father’s Humility in the Ascension

The Father’s pleasure in the Son marks the beginning and end of his earthly ministry. At his baptism the Father’s audible voice is heard: “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). When he has accomplished his saving task the Father is greatly pleased. 

“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).

“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 2:33).

In these texts the language of exaltation is taken up to describe what happens in the ascension and the seating of Jesus at the right hand of the Father. The physical rising into heaven is a tangible expression of the Father exalting the Son. He is literally and figuratively lifted up. It is the Father’s passion that “all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father” (Jn 5:22).

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Dead Men Don’t Change People

The resurrection of Christ was the prelude to his ascension. The same Jesus that lived on this earth in bodily form was raised from the grave. This same embodied God-man was taken up into heaven before many eyewitnesses (Acts 1:11). Scripture teaches many things about the current activity of Jesus.

He is alive, well, and  seated at the right hand of God where he rules all things with the Father (Heb 8:1). He prays for us, intercedes on our behalf, sympathizes with our weaknesses, and stands in heaven as our eternal mediator (Heb 4:14-16, Rom 8:34, Heb 9:15).

His heavenly reign consists of executing the new covenant benefits that were secured by his death (Heb 9:15). He labors to build the church for which he died (Matt 16:18). He is at work to extend the kingdom of his Father throughout the earth (1 Cor 15:22-28). He is the sender of the Holy Spirit, who is on his new covenant mission (Acts 2:33-36). He is in constant communication with him to direct and guide his labors (Jn 16:13-15).

He walks among the church and provides for all her needs (Rev 1:20, 2:1, Eph 5:29-31). He protects us from the accusations of Satan in the heavenly courts (Rev 12:10-11). He advocates for us and exists as our righteousness before the Father when we die and face judgment (Rom 8:31-34, Heb 9:27) . He is extremely busy in his service toward us!

Athanasius argued that the present activity of the Lord Jesus Christ was further proof of his mighty resurrection. It is without doubt that Jesus is alive and well. All you have to do is look around at his activity in the world. He is transforming people and gathering his church. Here is a word from Athanasius—a man who rejoiced in the resurrection hundreds of years ago while on this earth and rejoices with the resurrected Christ now.

“He, the Life of all, our Lord and Saviour, did not arrange the manner of his own death lest He should seem to be afraid of some other kind. No. He accepted and bore upon the cross a death inflicted by others, and those other His special enemies, a death which to them was supremely terrible and by no means to be faced; and He did this in order that, by destroying even this death, He might Himself be believed to be the Life, and the power of death be recognised as finally annulled. A marvellous and mighty paradox has thus occurred, for the death which they thought to inflict on Him as dishonour and disgrace has become the glorious monument to death’s defeat…Dead men cannot take effective action; their power of influence on others lasts only till the grave. Deeds and actions that energise others belong only to the living. Well, then, look at the facts in this case. The Saviour is working mightily among men, every day He is invisibly persuading numbers of people all over the world, both within and beyond the Greek-speaking world, to accept His faith and be obedient to His teaching. Can anyone, in face of this, still doubt that He has risen and lives, or rather that He is Himself the Life? Does a dead man move the consciences of men…?”