A Place of Peace and Rest in the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ

The promises of God throughout the Old Testament centered especially in that peace and rest which He would grant to His people. He bequeathed the good land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants. He promised, then, to bring the sons of Israel out of Egyptian slavery into that very land again. And in that Promised Land, He would cause His Name and His glory to dwell among His people, that they might find their dwelling place of peace and rest in Him.

It was Joshua the son of Nun (the Old Testament Jesus) who led the Israelites into Canaan. It is the new and better Jesus of Nazareth who leads us into the promised land of heaven. There He is our God, and we are His people. His own Body is the Temple and Glory of God, whereby He abides with us, and we in Him forever. By His atoning sacrifice He has reconciled us to God the Father in Himself, and He has thus become our perfect Peace and our eternal Sabbath Rest.

What does this mean for us? The Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ establishes the place that God the Father has prepared for each of us, His people, in the Person of His beloved Son. Where He is, there shall you be also. Indeed, you have already died with Him in your Baptism, and your life is now safely hidden with Christ in God. It doesn’t get any safer than that! By His Cross, in His Resurrection and Ascension, He has prepared a place for you — He has become your true Home! — and He shall bring you there in peace, to be and abide with Him forever where He is.

That accomplished fact and established reality does not render meaningless or futile the life that you now live in the flesh. Rather, it is the very thing that frees you to live, even here and now, because it bestows real meaning and genuine significance upon your life in the body. For this very body in which you now live on earth, even subject as it is to sickness and death, shall be resurrected to the Life everlasting, renewed, perfected and glorified, immortal and imperishable, like unto the glorious body of your risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ. Consequently, what you do in and with that body of yours here on earth really matters.

It matters, but not in the sense that you must somehow obtain a righteousness of your own by the works of the Law. You are not able to do that, in any case, but neither is it necessary. It is not as though you must hit upon just the right combination of choices, decisions, and works in order to find your own way to heaven. You would never know the way to go. But the Lord Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, who has come to bring you to the Father in and with Himself.

Your life in the body matters, because the life that you live, already here and now on earth, you live no longer for yourself but for Him, who for your sake died and was raised and has ascended to the right hand of the Father. Your life right now is not only a case of anticipation. It is true that you do wait upon the Lord, and you hope for that which is not yet seen, and you long for the final revelation of the sons of God; you groan with all of creation for the consummation of all things, for the resurrection of all flesh, when Christ Jesus shall be all in all. But all of this for which you wait has already been fulfilled and established in the Person of Christ Jesus, in His Cross and Resurrection. And again, because you are united with Him by your Baptism into His death, so do you also share His Resurrection, His Ascension, and His Life. For that reason, even in this vale of tears, you already live before God in the righteousness of Christ, your dear Savior.

This life in Christ is your perfect peace and rest through His forgiveness of all your sins. For now it is by faith, not yet by sight. But it is no less real, sure, and certain than Christ Himself is True. He is your security, your identity, your place, and your permanent home, now and forevermore.