Yesterday was Memorial Day. What a people memorialize and celebrate reveals some significant things about them as a people. It reveals what they value and what they hold as important. It communicates a standard by which other things are measured.
To see this more clearly, it helps to step out of our culture and consider, for example, the Greek and Roman celebration called the Bacchanalia, which was a festival to Bacchus, their god of wine, freedom, intoxication and ecstasy. Indeed, following their idol the celebrants got intoxicated and practiced all forms of debauchery. Such were the values proclaimed, celebrated and practiced.
In our world celebrations are called Holidays, which the meaning of that English word was a consecrated day a religious festival. Though that meaning is lost on most people today, nonetheless at the founding of our country, those patriotic celebrations, such as the Fourth of July, were religious days of observance and celebration. Now when we think about those Holy Days, not specific to our country, but to all Christians worldwide, there are those days we clearly recognize as rooted in Christian events, such as the birth of the Messiah, His death on the cross and Resurrection.
Less often recognized is the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. I have never seen a wall calendar which acknowledges the Holy Day I am speaking of which takes place this coming Thursday. Now it is not that this Holy Day was never celebrated. Indeed some, such as St. Augustine, have said that its celebration was in the Apostolic era, and it was certainly celebrated in the days of Johann Sebastian Bach who composed several cantatas and the Ascension Oratorio to be performed in church services on this feast day. Even in our day there are still 19 countries where it is a public Holy Day, but only two of those in the Western Hemisphere and none in North America. This Holy Day has been lost in our land and it is the Day of Christ’s ascension to heaven.
The Ascension should give us a whole different perspective on Jesus, for John 17:5 speaks of the Son again returns to the glory which he had with the Father before the world was. At the Ascension Jesus resumed all those glories of Deity of which he had emptied Himself at the incarnation. Look at what has changed for the Apostle John. By all accounts John was the closest friend of Jesus during those years of ministry on earth, and John had many encounters during those 40 days of post resurrection appearances before the ascension, but here is the first encounter post glorification. John is so overwhelmed he falls at His feet as a dead man.
The Ascension restored Jesus to all the glory, splendor and majesty He had before the incarnation; it was absolutely overwhelming. In fact we are told that will not be just the response of believers at Christ’s second coming, look atRevelation 6:16-17. “And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand.”
People will be so terrified by Christ in His restored glory, they will wish for death from a rock slide, and not only human creatures, but indeed all creation.
Please look at Revelation 20:11 “And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them…”
The Ascension of Christ should give us a profound awe of Jesus now fully glorified. Indeed I think this is exactly why this has become the lost Holy Day. A baby in a manger appears to threaten no one. A pagan would feel no threat from a baby in a manger. Also, though to a lesser degree, the crucifix is not threatening. Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins. It is certainly appropriate to remember His death and burial. The method He gave us to do that was Communion not a crucifix.
Now the manger is empty, the cross is bare and the tomb is empty, but Christ is exalted back to the glory He held from all eternity past, and this glorified Lord Jesus Christ is a threat to all who have not submitted themselves to His Lordship, who have not received the remission of their sins by placing their faith in Christ. The glorified Lord Jesus is a threat to every kingdom in this world, He is a threat to all who continue to live in rebellion against Him and His Kingdom.
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