What is Ascension Day?
You may not have heard of it, but this special day is just as important as Easter and Christmas!
￼Not long now... it’s nearly here. Next Thursday is Ascension Day! You excited? You got the food in? Presents bought? Decorations up?
That's probably because most of us haven’t got a clue what Ascension Day is! Most of us have never heard of it, and even if we have, we don’t really bother with Ascension day.
Christmas Day? Heard of that one. Pretty popular day as days go. Most of the world will celebrate it and if not, most have at least heard of it and know when it is. But Ascension Day - it just sounds like a bad sequel to Christmas Day!
Is Ascension Day a bad sequel?
I think it’s fair to say that most movie sequels are worse than the original. You might be able to tell me of a good film sequel but I reckon for every good one, there’ll be 20 awful ones!
Is that the same for Ascension Day? You know, we loved the first one: stable, wise-men, angels, the whole she-bang. Brilliant story. Great cast. Loved it. 5 stars. But Ascension Day? What even happens? No-one knows the story. They should have just stuck with Christmas day and left it well alone.
But Ascension Day isn’t a poor sequel. It isn’t a terrible follow up. Ascension day is the crescendo, the BIG finish! Ascension day is the day that Christmas day was looking forward to! It’s more like Christmas day was the prequel to Ascension day.
￼So what is Ascension Day?
Ascension day is the day the church marked out to remember that Jesus, after he died and rose again that first Easter, ascended (went up) to heaven. The day he went to his rightful place on high as Lord, Master, Ruler of the universe.
The message of the Bible is that Jesus is Lord, God, King. Christmas and Easter show us what kind of King he is, Ascension day underlines that he really is King. Take a look at Philippians 2:9-10 (NLT):
Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honour and gave him the name above all other names, 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.
That’s Ascension day - the forgotten climax of the good news about Jesus. He is Lord of everything!
An uncomfortable message?
So why don't we hear much about Ascension Day? Maybe it’s because we don’t like the message: "that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth".
Many people aren’t comfortable with bowing their knee to Jesus. They struggle with that. They don’t like it. They don’t believe it. They find it offensive that Jesus wants to be their Lord (master).
And many Christians will squirm at such ideas too. We get nervous telling people about it. Why? Because it could upset people or make people angry. It could make people turn away. It seems like the unattractive bit of the story. No wonder we don’t make a big day of it.
Jesus as baby at Christmas? Ahhh.
Jesus as loving saviour at Easter? Ahhh.
Jesus as Lord from Ascension day onwards? Hmmm.
But that shouldn’t be our reaction.
A king who puts his people first
We don’t need to feel wary or worried about the truth of Ascension Day. Just look at the kind of person we are to follow and obey.
He’s not a King who abuses his authority, or rules with terror and lack of care. He’s humble.
He’s willing to sacrifice his comfort for us. He came to serve us.
He puts his people first.
If someone is going to be in charge of the universe, don’t you want it to be him? Why wouldn’t you want him as your Lord, your master, your God?
There’s no-one safer to submit to. No-one more loving to give your life to.
You can’t just have the Jesus of Christmas. You can’t even just have the Jesus of Christmas and Easter. When it comes to Jesus - it’s all or nothing.
So on Thursday next week, celebrate Ascension Day with joy and tell everyone you know why you're doing it - that Jesus has ascended to Heaven, and you are excited to serve Him as your Lord.