At the end of Mark and Luke’s Gospels and the beginning of Acts, we are left with the picture of Christ being lifted up into heaven. Reading these text today, we can only imagine what was going through everyone’s mind who witnessed Jesus ascend. It is hard to think that there was not at least one person thinking in utter bewilderment, ‘Jesus is floating through the air.’ I probably would have been that person. I probably would have also thought, ‘He ascended…what now?’ As the present church, this question is of the utmost importance for us; how do we live out Christ’s ascension?

Philippians  2:7-9 states,” …but emptied himself  taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name…” Christ’s willingness to be obedient to the cross and intentionally denying His splendor shows why God exalted Him.  It was through Christ’s ascension that the fullness of who He is was revealed for all to see.  Jesus was fully God and fully human and He was willing to do whatever it took to demonstrate love. Through His willingness, God exalted Him. The ascension is the exaltation of God that centers on Christ’s humility.  Indeed, the illuminating glory and beauty of Christ’s ascension is His humility towards humanity.

The humility we see centering Christ’s ascension reveals that His crucifixion was an act of love, because even though Jesus knew that He was fully God, He intentionally rejected His own glory to serve humankind by becoming human.

We can see that the ascension is not only an act of humility, but also one of self-sacrifice. It was God’s selfless act of denying His splendor that gave humankind a chance to receive His love. Therefore, Christ’s posture of humility and self-sacrifice is the full splendor of His ascension.  Christ shows us that there is something truly beautiful about the emptying of oneself in order to serve another for it is His glory.

One of the significant factors we see in His ascension is the way it personifies His humility and service to humankind.  Wolfhart Pannenberg states that, “It is primarily an expression of the self-giving of the Son to the Father in an obedience that desires nothing for self but serves totally the glorifying of God.”[1] Christ’s steadfast obedience communicates God’s love [2] and because of His steadfast obedience He ascended back to the Father in full splendor.

The greatest glory we can have as a church is living a life of humility and self-sacrifice because this is the full imitation of Christ to which we are called.  Christ’s ascension demonstrates that it truly is an honor to give oneself for another, and to do it with meekness. We can see that Christ knowing that He was fully God decided to go beneath Himself in order that we too may understand what it means to selflessly love.

He has made the way possible for us by showing the church that our true beauty lies in our ability to go beneath ourselves and love those who are in our midst because He did it first.

[1]Wolfhart Pannenberg and Geoffrey W. Bromiley, Systematic Theology, (London: T & T Clark International, 2004) 379.

[2] ibid., 379.