The Ascension of Our Lord
“Time To Go”
Rev. Jacob Sutton, Pastor
St. Mark 16.9-20; Acts 1:1-11
21 May 2020
+ In the Name of Jesus +
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance… (Eccl. 3:1–4)
In the beginning there was a time to be born but no time to die; a time to live but no time to kill; a time to laugh but never, ever a time to cry. For there was a time when all God could say is “good” as He gazed upon a creation where death had never had a second of time.
But for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. And there came a time when every matter under heaven was under hell, for the ancient serpent had brought up the reach of hell onto earth, the forbidden fruit had been eaten, God’s image was lost, and there came a time to die for our first parents and for all their children, down to you and your children. Abel’s blood for vengeance pleaded to the skies. Sin and death and the power of the devil have their time and place in you, your parents, your children.
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy on earth comes with the morning, and that great morning has indeed dawned.
For there was a time for God’s Son to be born, the right time, the Father’s time, when Mary had her little Lamb to make us white as snow; the Passover lamb who would drain His blood on the accursed tree that we might be washed therein of sin and death and the devil’s power and come out as white as wool.
For if there was a time to be born for God’s own Son, then likewise there was a time to die; a time to walk through the valley of the shadow of crucifixion all alone; a time for His head to be anointed with His own blood, a better Abel whose blood cries out not for vengeance but for our pardon, a pardon no one deserves. But this He did all for you: what He deserves, He gives to you freely, taking away what you deserved.
Weep not, O sinner, tis all true! For the Marys found no corpse to anoint with spices; no cold flesh on the stone slab. Toward the dawn of the first day of the week the angel rolled back the stone to reveal a tomb spic and span, ready for occupancy, but not by our God and Brother. For He who at the beginning had said, “Good,” had come to say it again. He had come in time to create afresh, to rebuild a fallen creation with His resurrected flesh and blood.
Now we live in a time of living to Him and dying to sin, a time of faith, hearing from the apostles of the Lamb once slain, who “…presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.” (Acts 1:1–3; ESV)
He had come to be our great and present joy on earth. Would then God’s Kingdom only be one of this time and place, would Israel be restored, the disciples wondered? Forty days after Easter, our Lord left the apostles in such a way that they knew that now they would see Him no more. He had given them all His commands, promised them the help of the Holy Spirit, promised to be with them always, lifted up His hands in blessing upon them. A cloud took Him out of their sight. “He was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.” (St. Mark 16.19)
The ascension of Jesus is the great milestone of our time. Our Lord, our brother in human flesh, victorious over sin and death on our behalf, with joy having scorned the cross and despised its shame for our sake, is raised above all, and has received the name which is above every name, at which name every knee shall bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth – Jesus is Lord.
But the angels interrupt the upward gaze, bringing the apostles back to reality on earth: Do not tarry here, for the times have changed, heaven’s kingdom stands open, and another time will come, the angels say. “Why do you stand looking into heaven, Men of Galilee? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11) The disciples knew what time it was: it was time to “…Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation… and they went out and preached everywhere…” (St. Mark 16.15,20)
St. Paul writes of the exalted Jesus, that “He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.”
And since Jesus – Our ascended Lord and Our Brother in flesh – now fills all things, He fills His Christian church on earth. He is our present joy on earth, bringing His blood-bought peace from heaven to us. He fills our congregation. He fills the ministry of Word and Sacrament that is carried out here and everywhere in the world in His name and by His authority. Repenting of your sins, trusting in His forgiveness, and daily seeking His help in your life, living as His baptized children by the help of His Holy Spirit, He fills your life. He fills you.
Another time will come, the angels tell the apostles as they gazed upward. A time for complete joy, when Jesus will come back visibly on those same clouds, with the angels singing and the trumpet blast of heaven to announce Him. He is our present joy and our future great reward, when our victorious Savior and friend will appear to raise up all the dead and give to all believers in Him, all who have been filled to the brim with Him by grace, the reward of faith, the heavenly inheritance, the blessed ascension of our glorified flesh with Him to the right hand of the Father, eternal life, no tears, only joy in the unending day of light and life. He will say at that time: “Come forth from your grave… it’s time to go…”
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit +