Sermon for The Ascension Day 2017

Your God Reigns. This phrase from the lesson in Isaiah challenges our autonomy as sinful human beings at all levels. We do not like to hear we are not in control. Human history is full of people from individuals to governments seeking ways to exert control over the earth and their fellow human beings while rejecting God’s rule. Such is never successful. Yes, it may look like such is successful for a time. Every single time, such controlling attempts fail. In the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ to the right hand of God the Father Almighty, we celebrate His eternal rule over all. We celebrate Christ now seated in glory in Heaven to intercede and mediate on our behalf continually. As I Timothy 2:5 states, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” All attempts at saying we have something to do with earning merit with God whether they be through trying to find a saint to mediate for us or through thinking we can gain notice by God with self-made goodness ALL fail to recognize the full Kingship of Jesus Christ, of His ascension into heaven. He alone mediates for us. He alone intercedes for us. This evening, let us meditate upon the implications of the Ascension in our daily lives.

Publishes Salvation

            Our call in life is to publish the salvation of Jesus Christ to all we encounter. This entails both those that have never heard or believed as well as reminding each other in the Faith. Isaiah 52:7 states, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’” This news comes from heaven, from the mountaintops. It is the message meant to reach into all the dark, deep valleys and crevices of humanity, to the hardest of hearts. We sometimes think in our call to proclaim the Gospel that we are only to reach those that are comfortable to us, which “look” like they will be most likely to receive the message. If we do this, we have missed the point. The point is that the Gospel is meant for us to publish and proclaim to all sorts and conditions of people, all that God places in our lives. The beauty is that God works through us in our obedience to proclaim. He is the one that softens and turns the hearts of people to Him. We do not need to set up measuring sticks to see how our methods are working. That is to place man made restrictions upon the Gospel. We rather in loving gratitude proclaim that Jesus saves us from our sins through His grace by faith.

            Our call is obedience to proclaim Christ as King over all. All we preach stems from the fact that Jesus reigns. In our lesson tonight from Acts 1:8. The call to the Disciples at the Ascension was that they would “be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This call remains alive to this day. We remain constant witnesses of Christ and the message of salvation. Christ the King has secured peace. The peace we broke with God in the Garden ended with Christ’s finished work upon the Cross, His Resurrection to secure our lives, and His Ascension to forever seal our standing as God’s dear children. The Great Commission is great because it has a heavenly mandate and continual seal with Christ forever mediating and interceding for His people as they respond to His love with grateful love and obedience. The publishing of this peace is a daily endeavor.

Sing for Joy

            Second in the fact that Christ reigns is what we read in Isaiah 52:8, “together they sing for joy.” With the daily call upon all Christians to proclaim the Gospel of peace to all nations comes the need for refreshment, nourishment, and reviving. In singing for joy, we see the necessary component of consistent worship of Christ the King. In worship, we are refreshed and revived in our duties as Christians. See, in the daily proclaiming of the Kingdom; we encounter constant resistance that wears us down.

            How do we deal with this wearing down? If we seek to revive self through worldly means, we will find ourselves lacking in joy and true reviving. The Lord calls us to worship. Isaiah 52:9 states in connection to the previous verse “Break forth together into singing, you waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord has comforted his people; he has redeemed Jerusalem.” We are comforted in worship by God.

            After Jesus ascended into heaven, we read in the Gospel that the Disciples’ first response was to worship Him. This is why worship on the Biblical first day of the week, Sunday, is so important. Beginning the week with worship prepares us for the coming days of living out the ascension in the manner Jesus taught, through proclaiming the Gospel.

            Worship of God is our supreme obedient act of approaching Christ as King. Worship conveys majesty, reverence, and awe for Jesus Christ. If worship conveys a message that seeks to make the worshiper the center, there are deep problems. In such, no true revival, refreshment, or nourishment occurs. We come to worship Christ our King, not self. Joy comes in the reverence for Jesus. Joy comes in the worship of Jesus.

Purify Yourselves

            Lastly, in living in the fact that God reigns is the point of Isaiah 52:11, “purify yourselves, you who bear the vessels of the Lord.” God is our protection as we read at the end of the Isaiah passage. As our source of protection, He provides the protection we need to pay for the penalty required for rebelling against His Law. Through Jesus Christ seated at the right hand of God, we have full access to the mercy seat of God and full forgiveness.

            The constant of publishing salvation has the component of self-reminder and of telling others of our need for Christ’s finished work to atone for our sins. We need to hear and re-hear this message for our whole lives. The message humbles us. The message makes us better communicators of the Gospel to others. When we exhort others to repent to Jesus Christ, we are doing so from a point that repentance is a constant in our lives. Purifying ourselves is to turn away from serving self to cling to Christ and His work of redemption.

            In this access to Jesus through repentance and faith, we live lives benefited by His Ascension. The benefit to this is that He continually intercedes for us. Our status is assured. Our eternal life is assured through Him, seated at the right hand of God the Father as our King. Living lives in light of the ascension is to live with our lives placed in His hands. We no longer need to worry about promoting self. Our sole concern because Jesus has secured our status as God’s children is to promote Jesus to all peoples throughout the world. We publish this news through His power, waiting and praying on His timing to work in the hearts we reach with the message. We sing for joy in worshipping Him by His grace. We purify ourselves through His work for us, enabling us to be cleansed by His blood. May we be a people that are publishers of peace instead of heaven gazers. May we be a people that worship our King instead of worshipping self. May we be a people that rely on His purification of our sins instead of seeking to earn our cleansing through our works.

Let us Pray.

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that like as we do believe thine only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into the heavens; so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.