What is Ascension Day? Definition, Significance, and Art

Some people would ask what is Ascension day and how is it related to Lent? Learn more about this important event in Christian history and what it means for our faith today.

Why is Ascension important in Christianity? The story of the ascension of Christ is about how Jesus returned to Heaven after His resurrection. In this blog post, we will discuss the Ascension of Christ and its significance in the faith. We will also explore what happened to Jesus after His ascension into heaven.

What is Ascension?

First, let’s get into detail about the meaning, history, physics, and cosmology of the Ascension. 

What is the meaning of Ascension?

Ascension, also known as the Feast of the Ascension, is a Christian holiday that commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascent into heaven. It is considered to be one of the most important events in Christianity, as it marks the moment when Jesus began His reign as King of Heaven. After His death and resurrection, Jesus appeared to His disciples for 40 days before ascending into heaven. During this time, He taught them about the Kingdom of God and gave them instructions on how they were to spread the gospel message (Acts 1:1-11).

The Physics

We cannot reduce the ascension of Christ to the level of a basic form of space travel. Jesus did not need a rocket or any other propulsion to get to Heaven; He just went there, as if by magic. But on the other hand, we mustn’t think that this was just an optical illusion, like when magicians make things disappear in a puff of smoke. No, it was an actual event in space and time.

So what can we say about the physics of ascension? First, Jesus Christ had mastered some sort of advanced physics that allowed Him to transcend the limitations of our three-dimensional space. He was able to move through space instantaneously, without traveling at the speed of light (or faster). And He was also able to defy the force of gravity, ascending into the sky without any apparent means of propulsion.

How did He do it? It’s likely Jesus Christ used anti-gravity technology. This would explain why He could walk on water and why His body was not subject to the customary laws of physics. It might explain how He was able to appear and disappear.

So whatever the physics may be, one thing is sure: it was a miraculous event that demonstrated Jesus Christ’s power over space and time. And it is an event that continues to inspire awe and wonder in all who believe in Him.

Cosmology or Cosmic Scope

The cosmos belongs to Christ (Colossians 1:16). It was created through Him, by Him, and for Him. To accomplish its purpose, He keeps the cosmos and universe alive. The reconciliation that He completed was not only for the church but for the whole world (Colossians 1:19-20). His ascension to the Father and enthronement as king led to this inheritance, which He received at His resurrection. As God the Son, He reigned collectively with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the unity of the inseparable Trinity. This was the introduction of His role as our mediator.

Christ publicly demonstrates His victory over His enemies in His ascent, as in a triumphant procession (Ephesians 4:8-10). Christ is the ruler of the universe. All things have been filled with Him as He has risen above the heavens. He has ruled his territories and sat on the throne of authority. As a result, the cosmos will be liberated when Christ returns (Romans 8:18-23). In the meantime, He rules the new heavens and the new earth (Hebrews 2:5-9).

What is the Ascension of Christ?

Jesus’ ascent from Earth to Heaven is described in the first chapter of Acts (Acts 1:1-11). Christ had been resurrected from the dead and appeared to His disciples for forty days, teaching them about the kingdom of God. On the last day of His earthly life, He gathered His disciples and told them that it was time for Him to return to Heaven. He instructed them to remain in Jerusalem until they were endowed with power from on high. Then, He ascended into heaven in their sight, disappearing into the clouds.

History of the Ascension

Historically, a procession with torches and banners marks the day of Ascension. This would start at the church, go to a nearby hill or mountain, and return to the church. This was done to signify that Jesus Christ had risen above the earthly realm and returned to heaven’s rightful place.

The ascension of Christ is also commemorated in art, literature, and music. Some of the most famous paintings show Jesus Christ surrounded by a group of angels as He ascends into heaven. And many hymns and songs have been written about this event.

What is Ascension According to the Scriptures

Now, let’s go into further details of what the Bible tells us about this event. 

Background in the Old Testament

Even in the Old Testament, the Bible notes some events involving ascension. 

Psalms 24, 47, 68, and 110, which describe the enthronement of the Royal King, are the backdrop to the events in 2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13-16 where David brings up the covenant ark to Jerusalem with joy. It depicts Yahweh as King ascending to royal sovereignty in these psalms

In Exodus 19-24, Moses ascends Mount Sinai to receive the Torah from Yahweh and descend with the Ten Commandments. On the fortieth day, Yahweh calls Moses out of the cloud to give him further instructions for leading the people. 

The ascension of Elijah is recounted in 2 Kings 2:1-18. Elijah departs from Gilgal with Elisha, who has requested a “double portion” of Elijah’s spirit. As they walk along and talk, a chariot and horses of fire appear, and Elijah is carried up into heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha watches as Elijah disappears. We consider this a mysterious event since he was no longer found and was taken away to God’s realm. 

New Testament

Although it is evident in the other books of the New Testament, the highlights and the representations differ.

Ascension in the books of Luke-Acts

According to the Gospel of John, the glorification described by the story seems to have taken place immediately after the Resurrection. Meanwhile, in the Gospel According to Luke, the depiction and representation are similar to Acts. However, it doesn’t mention anything about a period of 40 days. Then in the Apostles’ Creed,  it is mentioned as a profession of faith used for baptism in the early church.

Ascension beyond the books of Luke-Acts

Even beyond the four canonical gospels, the Ascension is still discussed in the New Testament. 

In Eph. 4:8-10 (citing Psalm 68), the apostle Paul argues that the church is founded on Christ’s ascension. He mentions that the ascended Christ has given gifts to His church, skills of persons, including the apostles. In 1 Timothy 3:16, which refers to the incarnation, resurrection, and the apostles’ preaching, He mentions the phrase “taken up in glory.” This is ascension language, and it functions to give a cosmic dimension to the work of Christ and the apostles. We can also read about this in Hebrews (e.g., Hebrews 11:16; 12:22), where it links Jesus and the Old Testament “cloud-rider” Yahweh.

This was not just an event in space and time that happened once upon a time to Jesus. Instead, it was (and is) part of His ongoing enthronement at the right hand of God as Lord of all. In this way, Jesus continues His saving work from Heaven even now, interceding for us before the Father, sitting at His right hand. These all indicate the ascension as an eschatological event. It is the “coming again” of Christ in glory at the end of the age.

Why is Ascension Significant?

This is significant because it demonstrates some important truths: (1) Christ has power over death and can defeat Satan, (2) He is now seated at the right hand of God the Father where He makes intercession for us, and (3) Jesus will return one day to judge the living and the dead. 

Christ’s Ascension and Our Present Life

As made by God, the creation was good and was completed in Christ, but it was affected by human sin and is described by Paul as currently in bondage. Jesus’ ascension means that we, the whole of mankind, are no longer under the bondage of sin and death but have been set free for the glory of God (Romans 8:21). 

The new creation, from the resurrection and ascension, is renewed in Christ and ultimately destined for His eternal rule. This contrast is significant because it means that there is hope for us to be set free from our current bondage and share in His glory in Christ. This hope gives meaning to our work for the present age as we long for the redemption of all things. 

The Ascension and Christ as King

In His ascension, Christ ushers in the new creation. He does this by taking His place at the right hand of God as Lord and King. His enthronement is not simply a ceremonial act; it exercises His divine power and authority. By being enthroned at the right hand of God, Christ becomes “head over all things” (Ephesians 1:22). That is to say, He is in charge of all things and controls all things. 

No event happens that is outside of His power or knowledge. Third, it means that Christ is interceding for us at the right hand of God (Hebrews 7:25). And fourth, it means that we have an advocate and a mediator with the Father in the person of Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 2:5).

When is Ascension Celebrated?

Ascension Day is celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter. In the Western Christian tradition, this day falls on Thursday. At the same time, it is always celebrated on a Sunday in the Eastern Churches. According to Christian belief, Ascension Day commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven in the presence of His disciples. 

How is the Ascension Observed?

Many Christians attend church services on Ascension Day and listen to sermons about Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven. Some churches also hold special events, such as concerts or plays, to mark the occasion. Many Christians also use Ascension Day to reflect on their relationship with God.

Feast of the Ascension

The Feast of the Ascension, also called Ascension Day, is a Christian holiday commemorating Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven. The ascension of Christ is considered an important event in Christianity because it represents His triumph over death and His return to the Father. The holiday is typically celebrated on the 40th day after Easter Sunday. 

Ascension Day is not a public holiday in many countries. Still, it is observed by some Christian denominations, such as the Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Lutheranism, and Methodism. In some countries, such as the United States, Ascension Day is also known as Holy Thursday. In others, such as Australia and Canada, it is simply called Ascension. 

What is Ascension in Christian Art

The Ascension of Jesus has been a popular subject in Christian art since the very early days of Christianity. In the Eastern Church, the Ascension is often depicted on icons. 

The Ascension is also a popular theme in Western art, especially in painting and sculpture. One of the most famous paintings of the Ascension is by Fra Angelico, who painted it for one of his altarpieces in Florence. 

Ascension scenes are often included in larger paintings that show other events from the life of Christ, such as the Last Supper or the Crucifixion. The Ascension is also a popular subject for stained glass windows.

In Summary

The ascension of Christ has been a controversial topic throughout history. Some Christians believe that this event happened, while others argue that it is simply a metaphor for Jesus’ spiritual ascension into heaven. 

There are many different interpretations of what the ascension of Christ means. Some believe that it was a literal event, while others see it as a symbol of Jesus’ triumph over death. Whatever your belief may be, the ascension of Christ is an essential part of Christianity. 

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Alex Shute
Alex Shute, MBA
Alex is a family man and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. His passion is to serve the global Church and bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn & grow.

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