By John A. Huffman Jr.
Thursday, April 01, 2004
Know What You Believe — A series based on The Apostles' Creed — Part 7
Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
The Apostles' Creed declares, ". . . he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead."
Today's sermon topic is "Jesus Christ Ascended, Exalted, Returning, and Judging." It could be four sermons. Or, in the hands of the right theologian, it could be four books of very carefully written biblical theology.
Let's do our best to see the big picture, addressing each of these important and, in some cases, often neglected themes.
I. Jesus Christ ascended into heaven.
Imagine if all the Bible did was tell of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and then left it there. We would see Jesus appearing to the various people as recorded in the gospels and by the Apostle Paul. We would be aware that His atoning work was accomplished on the cross, with all the implications involved in His life, death, and resurrection. We would see Him appearing in His resurrected presence to various people, as recorded in the gospels, and to Paul. His atoning work is accomplished and then He would just sort of shuffle off into oblivion.
The Bible doesn't let that happen. God tells us historically what happened and also lets us know the implication of all of this for us today.
We are told that Jesus ascended into heaven.
And we see that, just before He ascended into heaven, He gave a commission to His disciples that remains relevant to you and me to this day.
Biblical scholars question whether the Gospel according to Mark should end with what is called the "shorter ending," which reads: "And afterward Jesus himself sent out through them, from east to west, the sacred and imperishable proclamation of eternal salvation" (Mark 16:8b). Or there is the alternative conclusion to Mark, which is referred to as the "long ending" that, like the shorter ending, does not appear in all ancient manuscripts. It is in this ending that we read that Jesus said to them, "'Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved; but the one who does not believe will be condemned'" (Mark 16:15-16).