God’s Throne Is Not Unmanned: Why Ascension Thursday Almost Out-sundays Sunday
There are two Thursdays a year which out-Sunday just about every Sunday in the church year. The first is during Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, when our Lord prepared a supper in which He is host and meal. The second is this Thursday, which will be forty days from Easter, the Thursday when Jesus ascended into heaven. What Jesus did and gives on these two days encapsulates His whole life and mission.
On the Thursday of Holy Week, we meet the Jesus who gives you His everything. He doesn’t merely give you love or life or forgiveness; He gives all, down to the very blood pulsing through His veins and the meat affixed to His bones. “Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a communion in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a communion in the body of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16). He gives His everything into your everything. You are welded to the iron of His very existence, bonded whole and inextricably to God. You eat Him. You drink Him. He everythings you.
If on Maundy Thursday we meet the Jesus who gives you everything, on Ascension Thursday we meet the Jesus who takes your everything into Himself. He doesn’t go up into heaven alone, nor does He slough off His humanity like a snake his skin. Because He has taken all you are into all He is, and made it everlastingly His own, you ascend with Him. God “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus,” (Eph 2:6). God’s throne is not unmanned; it is occupied by the man who contains all men within himself. The divine throne is crowded with humanity. One small sitting down for Jesus, one giant uplifting for mankind.
These two Thursdays, Maundy Thursday and the Ascension, merge into a single day every time the church encircles her Lord’s altar. There we physically partake of the God who has physically partaken of our humanity. The altar is a throne, the throne is an altar, where the crucified King enthrones within us His body and blood, even as He has enthroned our body and blood within Himself. We lift our hearts to the Lord who has dropped His heart into our own.
Sundays are great days for the church. But I daresay these two Thursdays deserve to be elevated alongside any Sunday, for in them incarnation, atonement, resurrection, and glorification unite in a single voice to proclaim, “This is who Jesus Christ truly is.”