Ruling, Reigning, Returning – Ascension Day

Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of Jesus’ ministry is His Ascension. Christians and pagans alike are baffled at the image of Jesus ascending into the heavens. Despite our professed allegiance to Christ as God and man who lived, died, and rose again, we cannot help but think like Post-modern pagans that what happened on Ascension Day is Christ disappearing not merely from sight but also in impact, in effect, and indefinitely. Should we speak our doubts out loud, then we would say that Jesus is away. 

But God is never away. Christ the God-man returns into His glory to rule and reign. Christ returns to the very glory He dwelt in since before the foundation of the world, even before He enacted the Father’s command “Let it be.” The glory that Christ provided Peter, James, and John a glimpse at His Transfiguration is the glory Jesus ascends to as He sits in authority all the while ruling both the heavenly and earthly realms at the right hand of the Father.  

We hear the fulfillment of the Psalms ringing throughout Ascensiontide. While the pagans rage and plot vainly, and as the rulers of the earth take counsel against the Lord God and Christ, “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.” (Psalm 2:1-4, ESV). Our King, the Lord Jesus Christ, reigns from on high and the Father in His infinite patience and love continues offering an open hand with a pardon to rebellious mankind. Mercifully and graciously, the Father advises the orchestrators and antagonizers of rebellion: 

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
    be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
    and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
    lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
    for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. 

  • Psalm 2:10-12, ESV 

Ascensiontide is a time to look up and remember that God reigns even amidst the madness. His patience and His love is displayed through the promise that all His elect shall be saved, redeemed, and the lost sheep of Israel gathered together into one flock: that is, the Body of His Son, the ark of salvation, His Church. 

And to preview Pentecost Sunday, our mission that Christ gives His Church is to cast nets and fish for those same pagans who now mock Christ, as we once did. Yes, we especially once mocked and denied Christ, and yet when He revealed Himself upon the Cross, enthroned, high, lifted up, we were yet drawn to Him in this display of Divine love, and like the thief on the Cross we change our minds – we repent – and beg, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom.” And even this late confession and repentance is a mustard seed faith to which our Lord promises, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42-43, ESV). Cast your nets, O Church, for the Spirit is at work in His Body because Christ reigns from on high. The Holy Spirit of God is active and present, even in us lazy servants of God, every time we share the Gospel: Christ has died for your sins and is risen – and not empty-handed, for: 

18 You ascended on high,
    leading a host of captives in your train
    and receiving gifts among men,
even among the rebellious, that the Lord God may dwell there. 

  • Psalm 68:18 

Simply put, Christ’s Ascension is crucial to our salvation. It is necessary. It renders humanity’s ability to enter into the Lord God’s presence without fear. It is why we receive it from the Scripture, profess it in the creeds, and confess it in our 39 Articles of Religion (Article 4). 

You may ask yourself, “Why is it necessary for salvation? Surely, he is exaggerating…”

I am not, and more importantly, do not take my word for it but take up the Holy Word of God into your hands, read, and believe. 

Mankind finds itself in the unnatural state we are born into as sinners. Therefore, as the Lord God told even Moses, “you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live.” (Exodus 33:20). Why this separation? It comes not from God, but from humanity’s sin, error, lawlessness. When we enter God’s presence, we enter as unformed clay that will burst within the oven. “For our God is a consuming fire,” (Hebrews 12:29, ESV) and in order for the unholy to survive and thrive with the Holy One, we need new clothes, new bodies, new hearts, new minds, yes even a renewed Spirit. Alas, I cannot help but preview Pentecost because all of Jesus’ ministry is for one purpose: our salvation. Therefore, we are clothed by faith in Christ through being born again in the baptismal waters and in His Spirit so we may enter the Holy presence of God. (John 3:5, ESV). 

When Christ lives, dies, rises, and ascends, He does so for us, for you.  

Jesus never sheds His humanity. To this day, He is fully God and fully man. He is the only One who possesses the resurrected and renewed body awaiting the renewed creation. And by virtue of what He has accomplished for us, He brings humanity into the heavenly realm. He walks – yes physically walks – in the resurrected body in the heavenly realm. He walks into the heavenly temple, the true temple, and He brings Himself, the perfect sacrifice, into the true temple of God, not the temporary man-made temple. “For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.” (Hebrews 9:24, ESV). 

There in the real temple, the heavenly one, our Great High Priest and the Bishop and Overseer of our souls applies His eternal sacrifice – Himself, in the very body He sacrificed upon the Cross – for all those whom He has redeemed and is redeeming so that when they enter into the heavenly realm, they may enter into the Holy without being consumed. Just as Christ appeared to the three young men and preserved them from the fire (Daniel 3:25, ESV), so does Christ ascend in the heavenly realm, so that we may be preserved, protected, refined, and renewed as we await the great resurrection when the King shall unite the two realms. 

Alas, even we Christians are infected by post-modernism and we think the spiritual and heavenly is “less real” than the earthly. Fellow sinner, who made the earthly? God! Where does God sit? In the heavenly realm. If God, who is the Eternal One, the Everlasting One, the I AM WHO I AM, the Existing One, rules from the heavenly realm then understand this: the heavenly realm is far more real than the earthly realm.  This is why Revelation 21:2 reveals that the heavenly Jerusalem shall descend upon earth – because it is more real than the earthly one. It is why Christ shall return, for the King shall bring His Kingdom onto, into, overlapping, and permeating the cosmos, onto a renewed earth. 

Alas, but “For now we see in a mirror, darkly, but then face to face.” (1 Corinthians 13:12, ASV). Indeed, the hour draws nearer than when we first began, and sooner than we realize we shall behold our King face-to-face. He who ascended and “who was seated on the throne” tells us, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Revelation 21:5, ESV). 

Jesus ascends, to bring heaven closer to creation. As the angels told the disciples, He shall return just as He ascended. The King who ascends to glory shall return in glory, the glory that St. John and the Apostles beheld, except this time, “Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” (Revelation 1:7, ESV).  

We sing this day,  

Alleluia! King eternal, 

You the Lord of lords we own; 

Alleluia! Born of Mary, 

Earth your footstool, heav’n your throne: 

You within the veil have entered, 

Robed in flesh, our great high priest; 

Here on earth both priest and victim 

In the Eucharistic feast. 

Yet on that great Day of the Lord, as the heavens shall touch the earth and the earth shall smoke like a refining fire we shall sing “Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending,” and, along with the Psalmist: “Bow your heavens, O Lord, and come down! Touch the mountains Lord so that they smoke!” (Psalm 144:5, ESV). However, unlike when God merely made Mount Sinai smoke, He shall baptize the world in fire to refine it. We shall all be tested, and the impurities shall be burned up, and what is left shall be Christ in us. (“[E]ach one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.” 1 Corinthians 3:13, ESV). The dead shall rise, the Lamb’s book of life be opened, and we shall dwell where all tears are wiped away by the very King who bore our tears upon the Cross, and who ascended into glory that He might clothe His glory upon His saints in the new creation. (Revelation 21, ESV). Then it shall come to pass, “that God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28). 

Give praise all ye angels in His presence. Give praise all ye saints who have finished the race and stand before Him. Give praise O Church militant “in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in Him” (Ephesians 3:12, ESV), and let your prayers ascend as incense before the throne of grace. 

The Ascended One goes to make a place for us, and He shall return as King on high, let us “praise the Name of the Lord, for His Name alone is exalted; His majesty is above earth and heaven. He has raised up a horn for His people, praise for all His saints, for the people of Israel who are near to Him. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 148:13-14, ESV).

Rev. Andrew Brashier

Rev. Andrew Brashier serves as the Rector of Anglican Church of the Good Shepherd in Pelham, Alabama. and is an Archdeacon overseeing the Parish and Missions Deanery in the Jurisdiction of the Armed Forces and Chaplaincy. He writes regularly about ministry, family worship, daily prayer, book reviews, family oratories and the impact they can have in reigniting Anglicanism, and the occasional poem at He recently republished Bishop John Jewel's Treatises on the Holy Scriptures and Sacraments ( The second edition of his first book, A Faith for Generations, is now available at Amazon ( and focuses on family devotions and private prayer in the Anglican tradition.

'Ruling, Reigning, Returning – Ascension Day' has no comments

Be the first to comment this post!

Would you like to share your thoughts?

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

(c) 2024 North American Anglican