–By Elizabeth Ahlman
The LORD says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The LORD sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
The LORD has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head (Psalm 110, ESV).
Life is such that it often feels as though the ascension of Jesus equals the absence of Jesus. We may feel that we have to stand staring into the sky waiting for Him to come back again. Our enemies still hound us from every corner. Our sinful natures lead us to hurt others. The fallen world pummels us with illnesses, natural disasters, betrayals, and more. The devil accuses us, whispering in our ears that we are never going to be good enough for a holy and righteous God, asking us if God really loves us and our dirty selves THAT MUCH. Our enemies do their best every day to trample us down with constant little hiccups and big tragedies. And in the end, the great enemy, death, comes to breath down our necks. In the face of our enemies, we long for a Jesus Who is not absent.
Ascension, though, does not equal absence. Quite the contrary, Ascension to the right hand of God equals presence. God’s right hand is His hand of grace and mercy, which goes out into all the world to subdue the enemies of His people and bring life and salvation. Jesus sits in the position of power and of might. He places His feet upon the necks of all of our enemies — our sinful selves, a world that mocks Him, Satan the liar, and death. He presses down and holds them at bay. He crushes their works and their ways, He undoes and redeems their deeds of darkness. He casts Satan out of his place in the heavenly courts so that he can no longer accuse you before the Father. As King He rules and reigns over everything, bringing everything into submission to Him. As priest forever, He stands before God and intercedes for us.
Jesus makes Himself present for us in Word and water, in bread and wine. We need not stand staring up into the sky, waiting for His absence to end. He never absented Himself from us at all. This is why the angels tell the disciples to stop staring at the sky. “Why do you stand there staring,” they ask (Acts 1:1-11). Go to where He has promised to be present for you. Hear the Word proclaimed, daily drown yourself in the waters of your holy baptism, partake of His body and blood, truly present, in with and under the bread and the wine. Your enemies have nothing on the One who ascended and is present.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus Christ, You are truly present in Word and Sacrament for the sake of Your people; grant that we may endure the attacks of our enemies and be strengthened through Your gracious presence so that we may at last see You face-to-face at the resurrection in the kingdom that will have no end; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.