The Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord marks the fulfillment of all things. His birth, life, glorious passion, death and resurrection, a short 40 days ago, comes to a close today.
§ Christ came down from Heaven in order to destroy the power of Satan over mankind.
§ Christ was crucified and rose from the dead in order to destroy death by death.
§ Christ ascends in order to raise up fallen human nature to the heights of Heaven.
He ascends not as He came down. He ascends taking with Himself a human body, a human soul, a human mind, a human will, all the attributes of human nature, except of course for sin, for Christ’s human nature is human nature as it was first intended to be, not fallen human nature, but human nature fully restored.
And in order to give us the opportunity for victory in humility, at the Ascension Jesus Christ gives us two things:
§ First, He comforts us, as He did the disciples, with the promise of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is the Holy Spirit who guides us into all truth.
§ Secondly, He reminds us that as He ascended with angels and a cloud of glory, so will He return.
What does the Ascension mean for us? “It means that we are already living under His reign while awaiting His return to establish the Kingdom in its fullness. We are not to stand gazing up into heaven (Acts 1:11), but to prepare ourselves soberly as His servants, filled with the Spirit, expecting His return, living lives of righteousness.” (Orthodox Study Bible notes on Acts 1:9-11).
Today’s readings in the Orthodox Church: Acts 1:1-12, Luke 24:36-53