As we go through Mark’s Gospel, I’m sure you’re marvelling at many things Jesus said and did. So, wouldn’t it be wonderful to still have Jesus here on earth, with us now? Actually, it is far, far better that he has ascended back to heaven, and here are some of the reasons why —
1. He would be physically limited if he was here: his physical body could only be in one place at a time. So, if he stayed in one country we wouldn’t see him anyway (unless we travel to him). If he visited people around the world he would have so many countries to visit that he’d hardly ever come to Australia. And even when he visited Australia he’d have so many people and places to see that if he ever came to Cairns you’d probably be at the back of a very large crowd and might not get to personally meet him anyway!
2. He is present with ALL Christians now. As he (& the Father) have poured out “the Spirit of Christ” (Romans 8:9), every believer has Jesus with them (spiritually). This is a big improvement on him only being with a relatively small number of disciples at a time.
3. Jesus being present now with all Christians and active in every part of the world through his Spirit continues and expands his (& the Father and Spirit’s) work. E.g., Acts 1:1 says, “In my former book [i.e. the Gospel of Luke], Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus BEGAN to do and teach”, which implies that Acts is the continuation of Jesus working and teaching. So, really, a better title for ‘Acts of the Apostles’ is, ‘Acts of the risen Jesus by his Spirit through his Apostles’. And, of course, the work didn’t finish with Acts 28:31 but has been continuing since.
4. It was right and good that Jesus not only ‘return home’ to heaven, but that he be exalted, glorified and honoured for: becoming human, living out God’s will, dying to save us and glorify God, and being raised in power to smash death and sin for us. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name” (Philippians 2:9).
5. It was always the Trinity’s plan to send the Son for a time, then send the Spirit for the rest of time since then until the Son’s return so that people can be saved and God glorified. Jesus not being here now was always God’s purpose.
6. The Son will return, and Father, Son and Spirit will be with their people for eternity. Jesus being gone is only ‘for now’: it is a good, but temporary phase of our all-wise God’s purposes.
So, on this ‘Ascension Sunday’, be glad that Jesus is not here now!