So then after the Lord had spoken to them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.
I. THE FACT OF THE ASCENSION. Christ was, according to His humanity, translated by the Divine power into heaven. As God, He transferred Himself, as man, thither: to sit, thenceforward, at the right band of the Majesty on high. This signifies —
1. Preeminence of dignity, power, favour, and felicity.
2. The solid ground, the firm possession, the durable continuance, the undisturbed rest and quiet, of His condition.
3. The nature, quality, and design of His preferment. He is our Ruler and Judge.
4. His glorification.
II. CONFIRMATORY CONSIDERATIONS.
1. Ocular testimony. The apostles witnessed Christ's ascension.
2. Rational deduction. His arriving at the supreme pitch of glory, and sitting there, is deduced from the authority of His own word, and stands on the same ground as any other point of Christian faith and doctrine.
3. Ancient predictions.
III. THE END AND EFFECT OF THE ASCENSION.
1. Our Lord did ascend unto, and doth reside in, heaven, at the right hand of Divine majesty and power, that as a King He may govern us, protecting us from all danger, relieving us in all want, delivering us from all evil.
2. Our Saviour did ascend, and now sits at God's right hand, that He may, in regard to us, there exercise His priestly function.
3. Our Lord tells us that it was necessary He should depart hence, and enter into this glorious state, that He might there exercise His prophetical office by imparting to us His Holy Spirit for our instruction, direction, assistance, and comfort.
4. Our Lord also tells us that He went to heaven to prepare a place there for His faithful servants. He has entered heaven as our Forerunner, our Harbinger, to dispose things there for our reception and entertainment.
5. It is an effect of our Lord's ascension and glorification, that an good Christians are with Him in a sort translated into heaven, and advanced into a glorious state, being made kings and priests to God.
6. I might add that God did thus advance our Saviour, to declare the special regard He bears to piety, righteousness, and obedience, by His so amply rewarding and highly dignifying the practice thereof.
IV. PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS.
1. It may serve to guard us from divers errors with regard to our Lord's human nature. Our Lord did visibly, in human shape, ascend to heaven, and therefore He continues still a Man; and as such He abides in heaven. He is indeed everywhere by His Divinity present with us; He is also in His humanity present to our faith, memory, affection; He is therein also present by mysterious representation, by spiritual efficacy, by general inspection and influence on His Church; but in body, as we are absent from Him, so is He likewise separated from us; we must depart hence, that we may be with Him in the place whither He is gone to prepare for us.
2. Is Christ ascended and advanced to this glorious eminency at God's right hand? Then let us answerably behave ourselves towards Him, rendering Him the honour and worship, the fear and reverence, the service and obedience, suitable and due to His state.
3. These points afford ground and matter of great joy and comfort to us. Victory over enemies; exaltation of Him who has stooped to become one with us — our Elder Brother; the possession of a Friend in so high place and so great power, etc.
4. The consideration of these things serves to cherish and strengthen all kinds of faith and hope in us. We cannot surely distrust the accomplishment of any promises declared by Him, we cannot despair of receiving any good from Him, who is ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of Divine wisdom and power, thence viewing all things done here, thence ordering all things everywhere for the advantage of those who love Him and trust in Him.
5. These points likewise serve to excite and encourage our devotion. Having such a Mediator in heaven, so good and sure a Friend at court, what should hinder us from cheerfully addressing ourselves by Him on all occasions to God?
6. It may encourage us to all kinds of obedience, to consider what a high pitch of eternal glory and dignity our Lord has obtained in regard to His obedience, and as a pledge of like recompense designed to us if we tread in His footsteps.
7. The consideration of these points should elevate our thoughts and affections from these inferior things here below unto heavenly things (Colossians 3:1). To the Head of our body we should be joined; continually deriving sense and motion, direction and activity, from Him; where the Master of our family is, there should our minds be, constantly attentive to His pleasure, and ready to serve Him; where the city is whose denizens we are, and where our final rest must be, there should our thoughts be, careful to observe the law and orders, that we may enjoy the immunities and privileges thereof; in that country where only we have any good estate or valuable concernment, there our mind should be, studying to secure and improve our interest therein; our resolution should be conformable to that of the holy Psalmist: "I will lift up mine eyes to the hills from whence cometh my help."
(Isaac Barrow, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God.