Jesus Ascended: Part 4 (Jesus Ministers)

(Same series, different picture. The same picture cropping up again and again was making the blog look a bit boring, plus I've got a slight obsession with Instagram at the moment, combined with one last day of blue skies here in Leeds. Hence, voila.)

Now, leaving the aesthetics aside and moving on to the theology, we've been looking at Christ's Ascension and seeing that it's about a lot more than simply a change of location. As a result of His Ascension, we've seen that Jesus arrives, that Jesus receives, and that Jesus gives. And today we're going to look at how, because of His Ascension, Jesus ministers.

3. Jesus Ministers

Why am I using a vague term like ministers? Because there are a few different ways in which Jesus ministers to His people as a result of the Ascension. The book of Hebrews highlights two particular ministries of the ascended Christ.

(i) Compassion
Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15).
As a result of His ascension, we have a great High Priest who sympathises with our weaknesses; Jesus our ascended Mediator shows us compassion. But this compassion is much more than merely a sympathetic feeling. So how does Jesus show this compassion?

Firstly, He opens the Scriptures to us. On the day He rose from the dead, Jesus met two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. This pair were tired and dejected. If anyone needed Jesus' compassion that day, they did. And how did He show them His compassion? By opening the Scriptures to them. As Spurgeon said, ‘There is in the Bible a remedy exactly fitted for your grief … the Bible contains keys that will open the iron gates of your trouble, and give you freedom from your sorrow.’ And Jesus showed the disciples on the Emmaus road exactly what that key is: Jesus Himself!

Yet, as important as His opening of the Scriptures to us (and opening our eyes and ears to the Scriptures) is, it isn't the only way the Jesus ministers His compassion to us. He also gives strength in time of trouble. In Acts 4:8 we see how Peter is filled afresh with the Holy Spirit before facing the Sanhedrin. And, later in Acts, we see how Paul and Silas, instead of being filled with fear when they were put in gaol, spent their imprisonment singing psalms and praying (Acts 16:25).

(ii) Intercession
Christ's 'abiding intercession' is perhaps the result of the Ascension that we know best, or at least the one of which we talk about the most in evangelical circles. The book of Hebrews speaks of it as follows:
'Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.' (Hebrews 7:25).
We're not told exactly what Jesus prays for when He intercedes for us, but the best example we have is when He intercedes for believers at the end of His earthly ministry, in what we call His high-priestly prayer in John 17. There He prays for His own, just as in Hebrews 7:25 He prays for 'those who come to God through Him.' So, His intercession is for those who belong to Him; for believers.

And how does He pray for us who believe? Firstly He prays for protection for His disciples (Jn. 17:11). Then He goes on to pray that they may have joy (Jn 17:13), specifically His joy fulfilled in us. He also prays for the unity of the church (Jn 17:21-23) and that we may be with Him and see His glory (Jn. 17:24). Those are still prayers that we need today, and Jesus, we are assured, as a result of His Ascension, carries on that intercession.