One of the shorter lines in the Apostles’ Creed affirms that Jesus ascended into heaven. This statement comes after clear affirmations of who Jesus is and what he has done. Jesus was both fully divine and fully human – that is who he is. Jesus also died an atoning, sacrificial death and rose from the dead – that is what he did. After these important truths about Jesus are affirmed, the Creed notes that “he ascended into heaven.”
The ascension of Jesus refers to the time after the resurrection, when Jesus went up into heaven to be at the right hand of the Father (Luke 24:50–53; John 3:13, 20:17; Acts 1:6–11; Ephesians 4:8–10). The texts in Luke and Acts describe the disciples watching as Jesus was carried into heaven.
These biblical texts teach a few important things about Jesus. Let’s explore these a little closer.
Jesus and Mankind
Jesus' ascension provides affirmation that he is fully God and fully human. In John 3:13, Jesus makes a pronouncement about who he is when he tells Nicodemus, “No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man” (ESV). These statements that he descended from heaven and that he is the Son of Man speak to both his divine and human nature.
Jesus and The Father
When the Apostles’ Creed discusses Jesus’ ascent to heaven, the idea is that Jesus ascended to be in the presence of God. As the Creed goes on to state, he is at the right hand of the Father. Jesus being in the presence of the Father shows his communion or fellowship with the Father.
Jesus discussed this with Mary Magdalene in John 20:17 when he says, “I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”
Jesus’ ascension to the Father demonstrates his fellowship with God. He informs Mary – who tells the other disciples – that the Father is their Father and their God. Because of our fellowship, Jesus goes to prepare a place for his people (John 14:2–3).
Jesus and The Holy Spirit
In John 14 and 16, Jesus teaches his disciples that he will be going to the Father and, when he reaches the Father, he will send the Holy Spirit to guide them and convict the world. Jesus links his ascension to his sending of the Holy Spirit when he says, “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 ascension of Jesus is tied to the Trinitarian core of the Apostles’ Creed and it demonstrates who Jesus is and what he did. This is Good News for us because Jesus went to heaven to secure a place for his people (14:2–3), to send the Holy Spirit and to intercede for his people at the right hand of the Father.
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