As It Is Written . . .
The Essential Ascension
Jesus rose from the dead, not in order to return to the earth, but in order to enter "into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us" (Heb. 9:24). His priesthood is heavenly; indeed, "if he were on earth, he would not be a priest" (8:4). His priestly service, commenced on Calvary, was perfected when, "not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood he entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption" (9:12).
The Lord's Ascension, then, is essential to the work of the Atonement. According to a theme developed chiefly in the Epistle to the Hebrews, God united us to himself—made us at-one with himself—not only by the Son's assumption of our humanity in the Incarnation, but also by this Son's bearing our humanity home to the Father. In Christ's Ascension, God eradicates every vestige of our alienation from him.
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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
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