The last two days we have looked at two specific reasons why we can be very thankful that Jesus rose from the dead and has now has ascended to the Father. We have been considering the encouraging truths that we have two members of the trinity interceding for us and within us, as we journey through life: Jesus and The Holy Spirit. When Jesus commissioned His disciples to go and make disciples of all nations He told them ‘and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’ Matthew 28:20. He had no intention of letting them going it alone, and so it is for us. Our Emmanuel is with us every moment of every day, praying for us at the throne of God and indwelling us by His Spirit.
Today we are going to look at a further reason to be thankful for Jesus’ ascension – a more intriguing and mystical reason – which, in many respects, is harder for us to grasp and take hold of than the fact that He is in heaven praying for us. If we can grasp and comprehend it however, it will be a source of great encouragement and strength to our faith. It is the truth that we ourselves are seated ‘with Christ’ in the heavenly realm.
Jesus gives us an inkling of this miracle as he dialogues with His crestfallen disciples at the last supper. Having told them that He is going away, and as they press Him as to where He is going He says to them. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.” He then says “No one comes to the Father except through me”. John 14:2-6. These are words that are often read at a funeral, and they can of course refer to our going to our Father in heaven after we die, but is that all that Jesus meant?
The Fathers ‘house’ is of course His dwelling place. We can think of it as heaven, but it is in fact wherever He chooses to dwell. It’s not in the space time dimensions that we understand, but it is wherever God is, because heaven is what surrounds Him. Solomon had something of an idea about the nature of God and heaven when he was dedicating the temple he had built. He asks “But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple that I have built!” 1 Kings 8:27.
If we can grasp that heaven is not in any one specific spatial location, it will make it easier to understand the whole idea of Jesus saying to us, as He did to His first disciples, “I am going to prepare a place for you and I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”. So what did He mean? Paul, who was caught up into the third heaven, 2 Corinthians 12:2, and was careful to check out his understanding of the gospel with the other apostles, Galatians 2:1, lets us into the revelation that he wrote about in his letter to the Ephesians.
In chapter 1:19,20 of Ephesians, Paul tells us about ‘the mighty strength, which He (God) exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms’. He then goes onto tell us that although we were dead in our sin ‘because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive together with Christ……. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus’. Ephesians 2:4-7.
I don’t know about you, but this to me is fairly mindblowing and quite hard to grasp, but God has said it in His word, so let’s believe it. It’s not about how we feel, or even what we have experienced to date, it’s about having some faith that this amazing revelation, that Paul has shared with us, is true. We cannot let our experience decide our theology, but we need to let our understanding of the truth lead us into its reality. I believe, yet again, that as we enter into intentional thanksgiving for this truth, that God now sees us ‘seated with Christ in His heavenly realms’ then the reality, and the benefits of this wonderful act of grace, will become ever more real to us.
As, by faith, I thank the Lord that, in Christ, this is where I am now seated, I can expect to become more and more aware of what Jesus is praying for me. Even more amazingly, I can increase my awareness of what His will is as I pray and talk to Him about all the situations that are on my heart. We can be in tune with the conversations between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we tune our spirits to hear the indwelling Holy Spirit and the whispers of heaven. We can therefore pray with greater confidence than ever, ‘Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as in heaven’ because, having caught what is in God’s heart, we will be praying more and more in agreement with heaven.
Is this why Jesus could say to His disciples “I am going to the Father” and “I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask anything in My name and I will do it”. John 14:13,14? Let us today, offer our thanks to God that we are raised and seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, and see how it changes our praying and raises our faith levels, remembering that He has placed us there in Christ, ‘that he might show the incomparable riches of His grace’. Ephesians 2:7.