III. THE LORD’S INAUGURATION
A good way to understand the Lord’s ascension is to think of it as His inauguration. Whenever a new president is elected in the United States, he must be inaugurated. Before the inauguration he is the president, but not officially. There must be a public declaration, an inauguration, for him officially to become president. The ascension of Jesus is the same. He was the Christ and the Lord, but this was not official until His ascension. In fact, He was not even the official Savior until His ascension (Acts 5:31). Praise the Lord for His ascension! Jesus the little Nazarene is now the King of kings and Lord of lords (Rev. 19:16). When the President of the United States is inaugurated, thousands of people parade through Washington, D.C. Who knows how many angels paraded in the heavens when Jesus was inaugurated to be Lord of all!
IV. CHRIST’S HEAVENLY MINISTRY
The Lord Jesus surely had a fruitful life on the earth. We call His work on the earth His earthly ministry. Through incarnation, human living, death, and resurrection, the Lord fully accomplished the work of redemption. This is why we read many Bible verses which say that Christ sat down after His ascension. Because His earthly ministry was a tremendous success, He is sitting, resting at the right hand of God.
However, that is only one side of the story. Christ also has a great work to do from the heavens; He has a heavenly ministry. When Stephen was being stoned, he looked up into heaven and saw "Jesus standing at the right hand of God" (Acts 7:55-56). In Revelation 2:1 John saw the Lord walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands. In Revelation 5:6 he saw the Lord as the Lamb standing in the midst of the throne. Do not think that Christ is sitting in the heavens with nothing to do! He is extremely active in His heavenly ministry. After being inaugurated into office He has important duties. Of the various offices into which He was inaugurated at His ascension, the three greatest are that He is Ruler of the kings of the earth, Head over all things to the church, and our great High Priest.
A. Christ as Ruler
As Ruler of kings, Christ is administrating (controlling and arranging) all the governments and events on this earth. The purpose of this administration, no doubt, is for the spreading of the gospel. By this means God’s chosen ones are being gathered in. From studying world history we can see that the course of events has been arranged for the spread of the gospel. Our calendar, which is used all over the world, is based on the birth of Christ. Even atheistic countries like Russia and China use this calendar, thus implying that they are under Christ’s sovereign ruling. According to Christ’s calendar, we are in the year 1985. This date does not refer to the Roman Caesars or to the Russian Czars, but to Christ’s birth. Our Christ is Ruler over the whole earth for the spread of His gospel!
B. Christ as Head
In addition to His sovereignty over the nations, Christ also exercises His headship. As Head over all things to the church, He works to gain His chosen vessels. Just consider one vessel, Saul of Tarsus. The book of Acts shows us how much the ascended Christ did to win Saul. Saul was a crucial vessel for God’s move on the earth.
Do not think your salvation is a small thing. It was accomplished because the Lord Jesus exercised His rulership. He arranged that you should be born in the country in which you were born. Your place of birth was not accidental, but under His administration. You were born in the right country, the right town, the right family. At the right time He brought you to Himself. You may have been in America, China, Europe or South America. One day He arranged for you to be at a certain spot, and you repented, believed, and were saved. If you had been in Moscow, the opportunity to be saved and now to be reading this lesson might not have come to you. It was under the King’s rulership that you got saved!
(Lesson Book, Level 2: The Triune God—The Triune God and the Person and Work of Christ, Chapter 21, by Witness Lee)