Sunday after Ascension

Where I am, there shall also my servant be. – John 12:26.

When Jesus became man and dwelt on earth, and suffered and died, and even when He rose and ascended into heaven, His aim ever was to prepare a place for us in His Father’s house, in the realms of eternal bliss.  This place for us needed to be made sure, first of all, by the atonement of the world’s sins and the redemption of mankind, so that a peace would be established between the holy God and sinful man, allowing us into the heavenly paradise (Colossians 1:20-22).

May I now speak after the manner of men, and very plainly, of a heavenly and mysterious matter?  When, having finished His work, Christ ascended into heaven and came to the gates of heaven, they opened unto Him wide, and all the cherubim and seraphim rapturously welcomed Him.  But Jesus said He did not come to desire admittance for Himself, but for us whom He had redeemed; He came as our Savior, our Substitute, to take possession of heaven for us, and to prepare a place for us, where we would be forever.  I speak after the manner of men.  Yes, and then the gates of heaven were not barred; then all the heavenly hosts, moved by the Holy Ghost, shouted with joy to welcome our Savior in the name of God the Father – for us (Colossians 1:21).

The place which our Lord prepares is not for the unbelieving.  It is not for the impenitent.  It is not reserved in heaven for the servants of sin and unrighteousness.  The mansions of heaven are prepared for us, who believe in Him as our Redeemer.  The place of the Lord is promised to His servants, the servants of righteousness who, by His grace, through faith, have obtained forgiveness of sins and righteousness (Matthew 25:34).

Thus did our Atoner, at His ascension, take possession of heaven for us, and prepare a place there for us; and now, in great loving-kindness, He says: “Where I am, there shall also My servant be.”  Whoever does not reject Him, the Atoner and Opener of heaven, but embraces Him in true faith, and serves Him, and is His disciple and servant, for him heaven is opened, for him the place is prepared where, in everlasting bliss, he will be with the Savior.  The cherub has lowered his flaming sword which turns every way; the cherub no longer stands forbiddingly at the gate of Paradise, all because of what the Son of God did, through His active and passive obedience, for the world of sinners, to fully satisfy God’s justice and His holiness.

PRAYER – My Lord and Savior, by Thy substitutional suffering and death Thou hast fully and completely reconciled me, a lost and condemned sinner, to God, having opened the gates of heaven for me, and prepared a place for me where I may abide in all eternity.  For this I thank Thee as heartily as ever I can. Continue to grant me, I implore Thee, with a rich measure of Thy Holy Spirit, working through Thy Word, that, with the eyes of faith, I may firmly and steadfastly gaze upon Thee, and trust in what Thou hast merited for me.  And then, continue to let me cling to Thee gratefully and to serve Thee, until, in heaven, I shall perfectly thank and serve Thee forever and ever.  Amen.

We praise Thee, O God; we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.  All the earth doth worship Thee, the Father everlasting.  To Thee all the angels cry aloud, the heavens and all the powers therein; to Thee cherubim and seraphim continually do cry, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth; heaven and earth are full of the majesty of Thy glory!” … When Thou tookest upon Thee to deliver man; Thou didst humble Thyself to be born of a virgin. When Thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, Thou didst open the kingdom of heaven to all believers. Thou sittest at the right hand of God in the glory of the Father.

The Te Deum Laudamus, pp. 35-36; (TLH)

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