The Ascension Definition
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"Jesus Ascension into Heaven"
The definition of "ascension" in general means "the going up", or "the rising up", either literally (physically) or figuratively - for example, moving to a higher or more powerful position.
In particular, when used with a capital letter "A",
- the Ascension refers to the annual day - Ascension Thursday, 40 days after Easter Sunday
that we celebrate the event of
- the Ascension of Jesus - his going up into heaven 40 days after his Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
To understand the term ascension better, we will look at the Bible, first in the Old Testament, and then in the New Testament.
The Ascension shown in the Bible Old Testament
Ascension, or ascent, or ascending, is the act or process of going up or rising up to something or somewhere.
15 of the 150 Psalms of David are called Gradual Psalms, Psalms of Ascent, or the Ascension Psalms. (Psalms 120-134. Older bibles, Psalms 119-133)
They were joyful songs anticipating the heavenly deliverance from the evils of this world.
These psalms are given these names because:
Ascension to the Temple
- The people rejoiced, coming back up to Jerusalem from captivity. Jerusalem is on a higher elevation, situated in mountains.
- They were sung as pilgrims came from a distance to go up to the temple at least once a year. The temple was on a prominent location in Jerusalem.
- They were sung on the steps - the gradations, the ascents - as people walked the final distance into the temple courtyards.
- The singers may also have sung them on a gradually higher and higher tone.
- The final Gradual Psalm seems to have been an instruction and blessing - a goodbye of sorts - made by the minister in the name of God, before the pilgrims left back for their homes.
The Temple in Jerusalem prefigures our heavenly homeland, the "New Jerusalem" (Revelations 22)
Jesus refers to his body as a temple that will be destroyed by men, but he would raise it up in 3 days. (John 2:19)
This was accomplished by his death and resurrection.
The Old Testament Psalms of the Ascension
There are other psalms that foretell Jesus ascending on high. Here are several in particular:
The New Testament Story of the Ascension of Jesus
- Psalm 24 - verses 7 through 10 address the very gates to rise up and lift up, so that the King of Glory may enter in.
- Psalm 47 - verse 6 tells how the Lord God goes up to his throne amid shouts of joy and trumpet blasts.
- Psalm 68 - verses 18 and 19 predict how from Sinai the Lord enters the Holy Place, goes up to it's lofty heights, and leads captivity captive. In other words, bringing a complete deliverance for God's people. Paul the Apostle quotes this verse in his Epistle to the Ephesians 4:8.
40 days after his Resurrection on Easter Sunday, just outside the city of Jerusalem, Jesus raised himself to heaven in the presence of his followers.
His visible mission on earth was accomplished. He gave his followers their mission, and final instructions, and told them to return to Jerusalem and wait for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Then Jesus went to heaven. A cloud came and hid him from their sight. Everyone should be happy! They should be happy for Jesus!
But they weren't. His followers were sad. They were going to miss him. They stood looking up to heaven. 2 men (most likely 2 angels) came and told them Jesus would return the same way they had seen him go.
Now was a time of preparation for the coming of the Holy Spirit, which would happen 10 days later at Pentecost.
You can read the bible story of the Ascension in Mark 16:19-20, Luke 24:50-51, and Acts 1:9-11.
What is Jesus Doing Now in Heaven?
At the Last Supper, Jesus told his followers that he was going to prepare a place for us in heaven. (John 14:2) We know this is possible because he paid the full price the next day on the cross.
But I also think Jesus was referring to his work in heaven for us, because right before, he said that in his father's house, there are many mansions. "If it were not so, I would have told you." (John 14:2)
I make reference to Jesus and his large construction crew of angels - who are very busy preparing lovely places for those coming to heaven - at the end of chapter 11 in the Christmas Star Story
Thank your stars!
Go to Ascension Thursday - Poems and Thoughts about Heaven.
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