Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:16 (ESV)
Jesus did not keep from his disciples the fact that he would one day be taken up from them in bodily form. “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12 ESV)“You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:28 ESV) While dinning at the house of Simon the leper he plainly told those attending that they would not always have him (Mark 14:7).
Christ’s ascension into glory was no secret either. There were witnesses. Luke wrote, And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11 ESV)
The place to where Jesus ascended was not foreign to him. He was very familiar with it because he had been there before. He knew that he had come from there and would return (John 13:3). He told his disciples, “I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.” (John 16:28 ESV) In the presence of his disciples Jesus prayed to the Father, “I am coming to you.” (John 17:11, 13) He boldly told the council of the elders, chief priests and scribes, ‘But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.”(Luke 22:69 ESV)
In keeping with this great gospel scheme, it was the apostle John who wrote, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (John 1:1-2 ESV) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 ESV) Jesus was in the beginning with God in glory and ascended to God where he was restored to his former glory. He prayed, “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:5 ESV)
Jesus was foreknown before the foundation of the world and was manifest for our sakes. He died and God raised him from the dead and gave him glory (1 Peter 1:19-21). He was exalted by God where he is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God in the heavenly places (Acts 2:33; Ephesians 1:20; Hebrews 12:2) where he ever lives to make intercession for his people (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25). One day he will return in the same manner as he was taken up. He will be glorified in his saints and marveled at among all those who have believed (2 Thessalonians 1:10).
Are you awaiting his return? Will you be among those who will marvel at his glory?
Scriptures for meditation:
1 Peter 3:22