So where’s Jesus and what’s he doing? At the end of Luke and beginning of Acts he’s taken up into the sky and a cloud hides him from the disciples sight. But is that what Luke truly is telling us? That Jesus is in the sky? Somewhere in outer space? That heaven is a place somewhere on the other side of the galaxy? I don’t think so.
Luke by telling us about the cloud is alluding back to Daniel 7 and the coming of the Son of Man. The Son of Man is taken on the clouds of heaven to appear before God’s throne and is there given a kingdom that will have no end. When did Jesus arrive? When did that happen? Luke in Acts doesn’t describe that moment in heaven but on earth. In the following chapter, the disciples hear the sound of a mighty rushing wind and see tongues of fire separate out to rest on each of their heads and they all begin to speak in tongues. That’s the moment, according to Luke, when Jesus was enthroned.
We always talk about Christ’s death and resurrection but forget the importance of his ascension. Both Hebrews and Revelation also describe it.
In Revelation, it’s spelled out in chapters four and five. John sees a vision of the throne of God and a scroll sealed with seven seals held in his hand. But no one anywhere (in heaven or on the earth or under the earth) is found worthy to open the seals and to read what’s inside. John weeps at the devastating news – NO ONE is worthy. But then an angel tells him to weep no more for the lamb has triumphed and is worthy. And in walks a lamb as though it had been slain to take the scroll and break its seals. And all bow down and worship him.
But what’s the meaning of the scroll. It’s the will and plan of God. Just like a will is read after someone dies. It’s takes a mediator to enact the wishes of the departed. That’s the role that Jesus now possesses. He’s the mediator of the plan and will of God. It’s the new covenant.
The book of Hebrews talks about this New Covenant mentioned by Jeremiah. Jeremiah had foretold of a new covenant in the time of the Babylonian captivity.
The days are coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
and with the people of Judah.
9 It will not be like the covenant
I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
What the writer of Hebrews describes is how Jesus in his death and victory over all sin has established this new covenant by his own blood. And that he has entered the heavenly tent (seen by Moses in the mountain) to purify it once and FOR ALL. This new covenant is not a law written on stone but a law written on the heart. And it’s new heart and new spirit which Christ in his ascension has brought about.
Those tongues of fire that we see in the book of acts, resting on each persons head, was originally one flame of fire resting over the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant where the stone tablets were kept. But now in Christ’s ascension, that fire has moved with the writing of the law on our hearts.
So where did Jesus go in his ascension? He’s in two places simultaneously. He’s enthroned over all creation and within those who burn for him.