Our thoughts on the Incarnation often focus exclusively on the birth of Jesus at Christmas time, but in Jesus Ascended: The Meaning of Christ’s Continuing Incarnation, Gerrit Scott Dawson points out why the oft neglected doctrine of the Ascension addresses our crucial need for an ongoing incarnation.
“Moreover, our salvation depends on his (Christ’s) continuing union with us. If the Son of God came to us where we are, but then left us, if he went away and did not take us with him, we would still be lost…For any view of the ascension as Jesus slipping off his humanity is a sentence of condemnation. We cannot be united to him in the Holy Spirit if he is no longer flesh of our flesh and bone of our bone. If the one who sits at the right hand of God is not still fully human as well as fully God, then we will never enter within the veil. If he dropped the hypostatic union with humanity, then he dropped us, and we are left forsaken on this side of the great divide, unable to fulfill our purpose, find forgiveness and restored communion, or enact our mission” (6).
Turning to the hope found in the doctrine of the Ascension, Dawson writes:
“A human hand will grasp us as we make our way into heaven. We shall be greeted by a face – the face of Jesus – that has a form to recognize. The incarnation continues, and so we are included in the life of God. That is the essential meaning of the ascension. We are not left alone. Jesus has gone before us in a way we may follow through the Holy Spirit whom he has sent, because the way is in his flesh, in his humanity. Jesus is himself that new and living way. The fully human one has gone within the veil in our name and even in our skin. United to him by the Spirit, to the one who remains united to us, we may follow where he has gone” (7).
This Sunday is Ascension of the Lord. May you be full of the hope that comes with the knowledge that the eternal Son of God forever shares our human life ensuring our ongoing fellowship with the God who is triune.