Chapter 48 Our Lord’s Place In Heaven

He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9).

Our Lord’s ascension into Heaven was a historical event. He went up in His resurrection body, having been raised from the dead. His ascension was actual, physical, historical, visible, and in the presence of His disciples. We read that He was “received up” (Mark 16:19); “carried up” (Luke 24:51); “taken up” (Acts 1:9); and that He, by His own power, went up (Ephesians 4:9). We are told that “a cloud received Him.” Had there been no clouds then He would have become smaller and smaller in His ascent, and this the Father does not allow His Son to become to us.

The Seven Stages of His Ascension

(1) Hebrews 4:14—“A great high priest, that is passed into [through] the heavens.” This refers to the visible heavens. In the Tabernacle of old the Jewish high priests passed first from the altar through the outer court, which answers to the visible heavens.

(2) Ephesians 1:21—“Far above all.” So we are told of His ascension. This means far beyond and infinitely higher than all created intelligences.

(3) Hebrews 9:24—“Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands… but into heaven itself.” This is entrance into the realm above the air, clouds, sun, moon, and stars, into the realm of God’s actual abode, where He reigns upon the throne of all the universe.

(4) Hebrews 8:1-2—“An high priest…of the sanctuary.” This sanctuary answers to the holy place in the earthly tabernacle—a kind of second heaven which in the Tabernacle was entered through a veil, and where Jewish high priests served the table, the lampstand, and the incense altar. These ministries in their spiritual form, our Lord now took up as the High Priest of His redeemed people—a sparkling evidence that He would relieve soul hunger, chase all dark gloom away, and perfume all our sacrifices of praise with His own adorable merits.

(5) Hebrews 6:19-20—“Within the veil; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.” This would answer to the Jewish high priests’ entrance into the holy of holies, though they did not do so as forerunners. Our Lord entered within the veil that He might sprinkle before the mercy seat His own blood of everlasting efficacy, and guarantee our following Him into the Father’s real presence.

(6) Hebrews 8:1—“Who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.” This is the essence and crown of His function as our High Priest, for it demonstrates His excellent dignity. The words ascribe to the Lord Jesus equality with the Father combined with His office of priestly administration.

(7) Hebrews 9:24—“To appear in the presence of God for us.” These words may read: “to appear face to face with God for us.” He turns, as it were, to unashamedly look full into the face of His holy Father and, as the Son of Man, be assured of the efficacy of His intercessions on our behalf. He carries a full receipt in His pierced hands for our everlasting acceptance.

The Four Attitudes of our Lord in Heaven

(1) Sitting—“He was received up into Heaven, and sat on the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19). It is significant that it is Mark, whose Gospel emphasizes our Lord in His earthly toil, who tells us of our Lord sitting in the heavenly place. This indicates the end of His toil—the completion of His earthly work.

In Hebrews 1:3 we are told that He, “when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” His sitting, in this instance, indicated the end of the purging of our sins—the completion of redemption.

In Hebrews 10:12 we read, “This man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God.” The emphasis here is on the words “for ever.” The Lord did not have to rise to repeat redemption’s work. It was finished forever.

(2) Standing—There are two references to His standing. The first is in Acts 7:55, when He stood in Heaven at the martyrdom of Stephen. It would appear as though He graciously went over to the door, as it were, to personally welcome His martyred servant.

In Revelation 5:6, we read that “in the midst of the throne…stood a Lamb as it had been slain.” Here we see Him rise to pour out the final judgments of God upon a godless world, so to wind up all the kingdoms of darkness and so to establish His own glorious kingdom on this very earth where He was crucified.

(3) Ministering—Hebrews 8:2 tells us of His serving. In the days of His flesh our Lord spoke of “being among you as one that serveth.” He continued in this lowly office, even in His triumphal resurrection days (John 21:13). And now in glory it is still His delight to serve His people, ministering to their daily needs from the true tabernacle in Heaven.

(4) Waiting—He waits, first, before His return until all His enemies are put under His feet (1 Corinthians 15:25). But, also, He waits for His elect bride, the Church, and for that blessed day when He shall receive her into His arms of loving embrace (John 14:3). We often think of ourselves as the waiting ones. But our Lord waits, too, and that with great eager anticipation to receive the bride whom He has won to Himself with so great a measure of struggle and anguish.

Oh, what love! How marvelous beyond thought is the love which exists in this union of Christ and His Church. How bright our future when we shall be Home in His prepared place for all the ages of eternity!

Golden harps are sounding,
Angel voices ring,
Pearly gates are opened,
Opened for the King:
Christ the King of Glory,
Jesus, King of Love,
Is gone up in triumph
To His throne above.

He who came to save us,
He who bled and died,
Now is crowned with glory
At His Father’s side:
Never more to suffer,
Never more to die,
Jesus, King of Glory,
Is gone up on high.

Praying for His children
In that blessed place,
Calling them to glory,
Sending them His grace:
His bright Home preparing,
Faithful ones, for you;
Jesus ever liveth,
Everloveth, too.

Frances Ridley Havergal