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).

Resurrection, Ascension, and Forgiveness

In the last post we saw the explicit linkage between the cross of Christ and our forgiveness. We now turn our attention to the relationship of forgiveness to the resurrection and ascension of Christ. There are two key texts that draws these themes together, both of which come from the book of Acts.

Text 1

“For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation,fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you” (Acts 13:36-38).
The “therefore” in the text links forgiveness with resurrection. According to Paul, who was the one speaking in the text, forgiveness is now a possibility because the tomb is empty. Christ took upon himself the sin of the world, absorbed the wrath it deserved, and took it with him to the grave. When he rose up from the grave he left our sin there. As a living Savior, he extends forgiveness for the sin he has thoroughly handled. 
Text 2

“The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:30-31).
This text takes things a step further and ties both resurrection and ascension to forgiveness. In fact, in this text, we have cross, resurrection, and exaltation as necessary precursors for forgiveness. The emphasis, however, is on the role of the ascension/exaltation. Notice in the text that the exaltation of Christ was for a specific reason: repentance and forgiveness. Christ was lifted up from the tomb and into heaven to be seated at the right hand of God. He received a rightful seat of authority at God’s right hand in order to forgive.
This gives us a helpful vision of the present posture and purpose of Jesus. Even now he continues to use his power and authority to grant us mercy. He stands ready and able to extend liberating grace to all who would receive. It is as though he is on the edge of his seat looking for every opportunity to grant the forgiveness he so earnestly secured.