Devotional Word for Thursday, December 31, 2020
After the Heidelberg Catechism looks at the resurrection of Christ, it immediately begins a discussion on the Lord Jesus’ ascension into heaven. Question 46 asks, “How do you understand the words: ‘He ascended into heaven’?” The answer says, “That Christ was taken up from the earth into heaven before the eyes of His disciples and remains there on our behalf until He comes again to judge the living and the dead.” As we think about Christian living, this question and answer have profound effects on our daily lives.
We must recognize the obvious. Christ is not here physically. There are times when that is frustrating. After all, the Lord Jesus is the one through whom the whole world was made. Surely the world would be better if He were ruling it. Though He is not physically present, the Scriptures do tell us that He continues to rule. Listen to how Paul describes it in Ephesians 1. He writes, “…which He brought about in Christ, when He (the Father) raised Him (the Lord Jesus) from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the Church…” In short, even though the Lord Jesus is not physically present with us, He is still ruling all things having been seated at the right hand of the Father far above any other authority.
Even as we recognize that Jesus continues to rule as King, we may well wonder what sort of encouragement that is given that we do not see Him and that He is not “near” us. Question 47 asks this idea in this way, “Then, is not Christ with us unto the end of the world, as He has promised us?” The answer says, “Christ is true man and true God. As a man He is no longer on earth, but in His divinity, majesty, grace, and Spirit, He is never absent from us.” There is a lot here to unpack, but I would like to focus primarily upon what is said about the Spirit that oft forgotten third member of the Trinity.
Answer 47 reminds us that the Spirit of Christ is with us. John records the promise of the coming of the Spirit in John 14. Before we read of that consider the setting. Jesus has already had the last supper meal. He has told His disciples that He is about to leave. If I were a disciple, I would have been fairly distraught. (What do you mean that you are going to leave? I gave up everything to follow you and now you are going to leave?) When they said they wanted to follow Him, Jesus said they weren’t able to. All in all, the disciples must have been fairly downcast after Jesus’ words in John 13 and 14. Into that disappointment and fear, Jesus says, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you.” This promised Holy Spirit did not just work in the hearts of the disciples but continues to work in all of God’s people through the ages until today. Though the Lord Jesus is not physically present with us, His Spirit remains in the hearts of His people guiding, encouraging, and directing them. In all of this the Spirit of God directs individuals to gaze upon and know the Savior who saves them. Let us pray.