Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ascension and Pentecost

But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7)
It is more than appropriate that Ascension and Pentecost occurred just ten days apart. It was necessary in order to bring heaven and earth together. Jesus, the God-Man, fully human as well as fully divine, ascended to the throne as King of Heaven and Earth. In him, humanity is eternally and irrevocably a part of heaven. But that is only half of the story. The other half is Pentecost. On the night before he was crucified, Jesus spoke to the disciples about the coming of the Holy Spirit:
I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever — the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (John 14:15-18)
Jesus would be going away. Yet, paradoxically, he would also come to them. He would not leave them on their own, as orphans. The Father would be sending the Holy Spirit — the Advocate, the Helper, the Comforter — not only to be with them, as he already had been, but to be in them. And so Jesus himself would be not just with them but in them, because the Spirit of God, who is the Holy Spirit, is the Spirit of Christ.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you. (Romans 8:9-11)
Because of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us, Paul can speak of Christ himself dwelling in us, for it is the life of Christ that the Spirit ministers to us: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Elsewhere Paul speaks to us of “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). The Lord Jesus dwells in us by the Holy Spirit.

This could not have happened if King Jesus had not first ascended to his throne. For both the Ascension and Pentecost are part of the victory of God and the reconciliation of heaven and earth. Jesus the God-Man ascended to heaven and the Spirit of God descended to earth. As the Holy Spirit does his work and all the enemies of God are put under the feet of King Jesus, the connection between heaven and earth will be made complete and, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:28, God will be “all in all.”