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Why Did He Leave?

BY HEATH JARRETT

We celebrate the birth of Christ, especially at Christmas. We revere the death of Christ for our sins, notably at the Lord's Table. We rejoice over the resurrection of Christ, particularly at Easter. But when do we consider the ascended Christ? What is Jesus doing now? Today?

It's impossible to over-emphasize the importance of Christ's death and resurrection in God's plan of redemption—that is God's plan to reconcile all things to himself in Christ (2 Cor 5:18–20; Col 1:20). But Jesus' story doesn't end there.

Appearing to his disciples, the resurrected Jesus “led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them. While he blessed them, he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple blessing God” (Luke 24:50–53).

Jesus' work on earth was done but he was not done working. The Son of Man not only rose up from the grave, he kept on going, ascending into heaven. Far above all the heavens and seated at God's right hand, Jesus ever lives to pray for the saints (Eph 4:10; Heb 1:3, 7:25). From the throne, the human Jesus mediates for us and is our righteous defense lawyer (1 Tim 2:5; 1 John 2:1). Far from twiddling his thumbs, Jesus is extremely active today—and your life depends on him.

Jesus' earthly ministry lasted three years. After his resurrection, Jesus appeared to the saints for 40 days (Acts 1:3). As the ascended Christ, he has served us for nearly 2,000 years. Don't fail to lift your eyes and behold Christ on high! Dear ones, Jesus prays for YOU! He mediates for YOU! He defends YOU! And he's on the edge of his seat, ready to come back for YOU!

But all of this still begs the question: why did Jesus leave the planet in the first place? He's certainly a better teacher than I am. Jesus went away so that we would gain the Spirit.

“Nevertheless, I tell you the truth; it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).

The Spirit has come, calling our gaze toward heaven to celebrate Christ high and lifted up (John 15:26; Eph 1:15–23).

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