What happened when our Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven?
At the Ascension our Lord Jesus Christ returned to the Father and was glorified - the final proof of His completed sacrificial work. He entered then upon His work as priest and king upon the throne- no longer needing to offer atoning sacrifice to God- giving gifts to His Church, and guaranteeing her security and final presence with Him in heaven. He waits now for the time of His final victory.
The Ascension was a vital link in a chain of fulfilled prophecy, promised both in the Old Testament (Psalms 110:1; Acts 2:32-36) and by our Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Matthew 26:64; John 6:62; John 7:33; John 14:28; John 16:5; John 20:17).
It took place forty days after the Resurrection (Acts 1:3).
It took place at the Mount of Olives (Luke 24:50; compared with Mark 11:1; Acts 1:12).
It was witnessed by the apostles, after He had talked with them (Mark 16:19) and then lifted up His hands to bless them (Luke 24:50-51).
He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9).
The return of the Lord Jesus Christ will be after the pattern of the Ascension (Acts 1:11).
He entered into heaven to appear now before God on our behalf
What the Ascension was.
It was an act of God's power (Ephesians 1:19-22).
It was the necessary completion of our Lord Jesus Christ's death and Resurrection: it proved the full acceptance by God of His single sacrifice for sins for all time (Hebrews 10:12); it marked Him out as Lord, even as the Resurrection marked Him out as the Son of God (Philippians 2:9-11; Acts 2:34-36; compared with Romans 1:4).
It was the visible ascent of our Lord Jesus Christ, according to His human nature, from earth to heaven (Mark 16:19; 1 Peter 3:22): He was exalted to the place in the universe He had laid aside when He humbled Himself to assume our humanity (Ephesians 4:9-10).
It marked the Lord Jesus Christ's return to the Father: He went to Him who had sent Him into the world (John 6:62; John 7:33; John 14:28; John 16:5; John 20:17).
It included a further glorification of the human nature of our Lord Jesus Christ: He carried His humanity with Him back to heaven (Hebrews 2:14-18; Hebrews 4:14-16), and He was highly exalted and glorified in doing so (Acts 2:33; John 7:39; 1 Timothy 3:16), the Father honouring Him with the highest possible honour (Ephesians 1:20-22).
The significance of the Ascension.
God the Father's acceptance of His Son into glory declared decisively and finally His acceptance of Jesus' sacrifice for our sins (Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:11-14).
The Lord Christ entered upon His work as a royal priest upon the throne, no longer needing to offer atoning sacrifice to God (Hebrews 7:26-27; Hebrews 8:1; Hebrews 10:21); He entered into heaven to appear now before God on our behalf, representing our cause before the Father (Hebrews 9:24).
The Lord Jesus Christ, demonstrated by the Ascension to be Lord (Matthew 28:18; Acts 2:36), entered upon His work as King; He is seated at the right hand of God (Matthew 26:64; Acts 2:33; Romans 8:34; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 10:12; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 3:22), a picture of the unique position the Father has given Him of kingly power and authority over angels, authorities and powers in heaven and on earth (Daniel 7:13,14; Matthew 26:64; Ephesians 1:21,22; Ephesians 4:10; Colossians 1:16-18; Hebrews 1:13; 1 Peter 3:22).
The Lord Jesus Christ ascended to receive, as Conqueror, the gifts promised Him for His Church (Ephesians 4:8; Psalms 68:18): He ascended to send forth the Holy Spirit (John 7:39; 16:7; Acts 2:33).
The Ascension of Christ and the consequent outpouring of the Spirit made possible the numerous gifts of the Spirit that the Church enjoys (Ephesians 4:8,11-13).
The Lord Jesus Christ ascended to prepare a place for Christians (John 14:2): He is their forerunner, preparing the way for them (Hebrews 6:20; compared with Acts 7:56).
Christians are already set with the Lord Jesus Christ in heavenly places, for they are made to share by grace, through faith, the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ (Ephesians 2:6): their citizenship is now in heaven and their thoughts and affections should be set there (Philippians 3:20; Colossians 3:1,2).
In Christ's Ascension Christians have the assurance of a place in heaven (2 Corinthians 4:14; John 14:19) and of their own glorification (Philippians 3:21): God's purpose in giving Christians a share in the Resurrection and Ascension of their Lord is that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward them in Christ Jesus (John 17:24; Ephesians 2:7).
What the Lord Jesus Christ does at God's right hand.
He lives forever, holding a permanent priesthood (Revelation 1:18; Hebrews 7:24).
He rules and protects His Church as its Head (Ephesians 1:22-23), helping the members in need (Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15), and giving them power to do great works (John 14:12).
He governs the universe, and to the end that God's purposes for the Church may be fulfilled (Hebrews 1:3; Ephesians 1:5-14).
He intercedes for His people on the basis of His completed sacrifice (Romans 8:34): He is our Advocate with the Father (1 John 2:1).
He waits for the time of His final victory: all His enemies shall be subdued (Psalms 110:1; Acts 2:35; 1 Corinthianss 15:24-26; Hebrews 10:13).
His Ascension in power is the prelude to His coming in power as the divine Judge (Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 26:64; John 14:28; Acts 10:42; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10).