« EdellinenJatka »
SUNDAY AFTER ASCENSION DAY.
St. MARK XVI. 19. ·
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into
heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
The words I have just read are taken from the Gospel for Ascension Day. And this being the nearest Sunday to that day, and called after it, I think it may be well to call your attention to that great event, in the history of our Lord, with a view to the lessons it contains for our comfort, and instruction in godliness.
The fact of the Ascension we commemorate every Sunday. For every Sunday we repeat the Creeds of which it is an article. Every Sunday we say of the Lord Jesus Christ that He ascended into heaven—and not only that He ascended into heaven, but that His place there is of the highest dignity–He sitteth on the right hand of God.
Every Sunday too, in the morning service, we use that beautiful Hymn, the “Te Deum,"in which yet more fully the meaning of the Ascension is declared.— When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.
We cannot, any of us, then, be ignorant of the great fact which, last Thursday was brought before us by our Church. We know that Jesus Christ, Who was crucified dead and buried, Who rose again the third day, and was seen after His resurrection for forty days, among His disciples—did not die a second death-is not now sleeping in the grave—we know that He has gone back to the place from whence He came out, to His Father's Home in heaven.
And, brethren, what else could He have done ? It was to be expected that the Holy Jesus should go back to God. It was the only fitting termination to His life in the world. What was there to detain Him here after He had finished the work that was given Him to do? It was a great mystery—it has often been remarked— it was a great mystery His coming to us at all—a little child in lowliness and poverty—a great mystery of love. -It was, a thing to be wondered at, that the Son of God should be made flesh. It was still more wonderful that He should undergo all that He did, at the hands of sinful men—that for thirty-three years He should bear their provocations and submit to their ill-usage, and be content to be betrayed, and put to a most cruel and shameful death—but that when this was over, when the cup was drunk, and the Atonement made, that He should go back, ascend up to where He was before, this surely ought to
surprise no one. It was, as I have said, the fit and natural thing for Him to do. Of all the many mysteries that are involved in the scheme of man's redemption by the life and death of Christ, the least mystery is surely this, that the Redeemer should be exalted with great triumph into God's kingdom— Worthy is the Lamb that was slain, to receive power and riches und wisdom, and glory, and blessing !
Perhaps it is for this very thing, because the Ascension follows so naturally, because it is what all would expect, that so little stress, comparatively speaking, is laid upon it in the Gospel.—Only two of the four evangelists mention it at all, and all that they tell us about it is contained in two or three verses. St. Mark's account I have already read to you in the words that form my text. And here is St. Luke's, gathered out of his Gospel, and from that other book which he wrote, the Acts of the Apostles.—He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass while He blessed them He was parted from them and carried up into heaven. . . And when He had spoken these things, while they yet beheld, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
So far then of the historical record of our Lord's Ascension. Less is said of it than of the Resurrectionless than of that which so soon followed it, the gift of the Comforter. And for this reason, because, as we have observed, it was the natural and necessary finish to the Saviour's course on earth—because knowing as we do, whence He came, and who He was, we can imagine no
thing more likely in itself than this which happened,— He came out from God, and He went back to God—He left the world to go to His Father And now let us consider, briefly, what results have followed from the Ascension, and how these results affect our soul's good at present, and our everlasting happiness hereafter. First, there is the proof of our Lord's victory, the sure witness that He did not die in vain, -Thou art gone up on high, Thou hast led captivity captive. And not only is the Ascension the proof of His victory but it is the sign of the commencement of His reign—of that reign in heaven which must last till He has put all enemies under His feet. What Pilate scoffingly asked of Him when He was a prisoner and apparently forsaken, Art thou a King, then 9 —that question is best answered by the Ascension of our Lord. He is gone into heaven, writes St. Peter, and is on the right hand of God, angels, and authorities, and power, being made subject unto Him. Bear this in mind, brethren—the Ascension is the sure token to us, that Christ has succeeded in all that He undertook—the token too that He is our King that God hath made that same Jesus which was crucified both Lord and Christ. Yes—He sits at God’s right hand, let us never forget it, in the character of conqueror, from henceforth expecting till His enemies be made His footstool. He sits there, all His sufferings over, all His sorrows ended, all His humiliation past, with His Father on His throne, the object of our highest reverence, and worship. He sits there, that at His name, the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father !
Again, the Ascension of our Lord prepared the way for His Intercession. He is gone into the presence of God, and sits at God's right hand on our behalf. He is there to plead, day by day, the efficacy of His great sacrifice. As the High Priest of old, among the Jews, took the blood of the victim, and having sprinkled it on his person, and on the vessels of the sanctuary, went into the Holy of Holies, to offer it to God for the people
--so our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ, having made an offering, once for all, upon the cross, has gone with that offering—even with His own blood, into the heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us !
He is there, our prevailing Advocate with the Father. He is there that the sinner awakened to his danger, may yet have hope, may not despair of being accepted, and forgiven!
Do think of this, dear brethren-do avail yourselves of the help that it offers you—Bring your wants, bring your fears—bring your troubles of all kinds—bring your sins to Christ.-Never have recourse to any other means, any other mediator, for reconciling yourselves to God. Christ alone is sufficient-He can save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him. Seek His intercession -make your prayers in His name. All prayers, we are expressly told it, are accepted that go up to God seconded by His Son-Whatsoever ye shall ask the Futher in my