Rescue and Ascension
“When he ascended on high,
he took many captives
and gave gifts to his people.”
- from Ephesians 4:8
He ascended into heaven
- from The Apostles’ Creed
There is a beautiful double movement in the ascension. And it shows us something about who God is.
Anytime a person of the Trinity is exalted, they look to see who they can bring up with them. As Jesus ascended to heaven, he rescued many captives, people held captive to sin and fear and death--people like us.
Jesus “bound the strong man” (to use a biblical allusion), conquered hell and death and the devil, and rescued the captives. His ascension is a triumphant sign of his victory. Only a victorious Jesus could ascend to heaven. Only a generous Jesus would bring captives with him.
This victorious rescue is the first movement “up” of the ascension.
And his victory is for our good. With his ascension, he gives gifts “down” to his people. We know about his gifts of new life and new community. We experience them week in and week out as we connect with God and with each other.
With the gift of new life and new community comes the gift that makes them all possible, the gift of the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit comes, we experience freedom and blessed assurance of our status with the Father. We live into our freedom as rescued men and women.
Human beings love rescue stories. Whether it’s a rescue from humiliation in an upstairs-downstairs drama or a rescue from robot super-villains in the latest summer blockbuster, we love to hear stories about people being rescued. The story of Jesus – laid out in the Creed – is the story of the greatest rescue ever. And it’s a true story.
Who do you know who needs rescuing? Pause and pray for them today.