A Meditation for Ascension Day 2020

The 7 First Words From the Throne

I don’t know how it is in your church tradition, but over the years in my travels, I’ve ended up in a lot of congregations on Good Friday. Frequently, the service has been built around what are often called “The 7 Last Words of the Cross,” referring to the seven statements Jesus uttered during the hours of his incomprehensible suffering on our behalf.

In college, I joined an all-city choir to sing Théodore Dubois’s “Seven Last Words of Christ.” Powerful. Recalling that experience a few days ago made me wonder this:

Forty days after his resurrection, when Jesus was “caught up” (Acts 1) into heaven (into another dimension, for sure), what might have been his FIRST words when he sat down on God’s throne? Or, more specifically, what might have been his SEVEN first words?

What seven expressions could Jesus have uttered on that very first “Ascension Day” as he was enthroned—declarations that in some sacred sense would parallel the seven last words he spoke as he was impaled on the cross?

On the cross, he spoke at “eye level.” From the throne, he would have spoken from “sky level.” If you and I were standing there at Jesus’ coronation, what “inaugural message” might he have shared with us?

On further study and reflection, based on many passages of Scripture, I was finally able to imagine what those seven statements might have been.

Therefore, as a way to help us Jesus followers to celebrate Ascension Day 2020 on May 21, here is my proposal for what “The 7 First Words From the Throne” might have been.

If ever we needed to hear these words in the face of this horrific global pandemic, surely today is the day! Read them. Rest in them. Pray over them. Share them.

(1)

NAILED TO THE CROSS, Jesus said:
“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”

ASCENDED TO THE THRONE, Jesus might have said:
“Father, you may now receive all whom I have redeemed
because they know all I have done for them
and trust in me.”

Romans 8, NLB: Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

Romans 5, NIV: For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! … we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation … how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ!

(2)

NAILED TO THE CROSS, Jesus said:
“Truly I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

ASCENDED TO THE THRONE, Jesus might have said:
“Truly I say to you, today and always, all who follow me are
sitting with me already on my throne in the realms of heaven.”

Ephesians 2, NIV: God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 3, The Message: Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective. Your old life is dead. Your new life, which is your real life … is with Christ in God. He is your life.

(3)

NAILED TO THE CROSS, Jesus said:
“Woman, behold your son … Behold your mother.”

ASCENDED TO THE THRONE, Jesus might have said:
“Father, behold your children.
Children, come and share forever in the joy of
my relationship of eternal sonship with the Father.”

Ephesians 1, NIV: For the Father chose us in Christ before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Galatians 3, NIV: So, in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

1 John 3, The Message: What marvelous love the Father has extended to us! Just look at it—we’re called children of God! That’s who we really are … And that’s only the beginning … when Christ is openly revealed, we’ll see him—and in seeing him, become like him.

(4)

NAILED TO THE CROSS, Jesus said:
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

ASCENDED TO THE THRONE, Jesus might have said:
“My Father, my Father, by enthroning me today you have fully
vindicated the eternal worth of my death and resurrection,
giving me the supremacy in everything.”

Philippians 2, Phillips: And, having become man, he humbled himself by living a life of utter obedience, even to the extent of dying, and the death he died was the death of a common criminal. That is why God has now lifted him so high, and has given him the name beyond all names, so that at the name of Jesus “every knee shall bow”, whether in Heaven or earth or under the earth. And that is why, in the end, “every tongue shall confess” that Jesus Christ” is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Colossians 1, The Message: He was supreme in the beginning and—leading the resurrection parade—he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone … all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross.

(5)

NAILED TO THE CROSS, Jesus said:
“I thirst!”

ASCENDED TO THE THRONE, Jesus might have said:
“Everyone: You may now come and drink deeply
of the river of living water that flows from my throne.”

John 7, The Message: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” He said this in regard to the Spirit … The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Revelation 22, NIV: Then he showed me the river of the water of life, sparkling like crystal as it flowed from the throne of God and of the Lamb … on either bank of the river grew the tree of life … for the healing of the nations. His servants shall worship him; they shall see his face … Let everyone who hears this also say, “Come!” Let the thirsty man come. And let everyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.

(6)

NAILED TO THE CROSS, Jesus said:
“It is finished.”

ASCENDED TO THE THRONE, Jesus might have said:
“Today my reign has only just begun to fulfill its purpose, which is
to make all things new in heaven and on earth and in you.”

Revelation 21, NIV: Then he who is seated upon the throne said, “See, I am making all things new!”

2 Corinthians 5, NIV: Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

1 Peter 1, NIV: In his great mercy the Father has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.

Matthew 25, Phillips: When the Son of Man comes in his splendor with all his angels with him, then he will take his seat on his glorious throne … The king will say to those on his right, “Come, you who have won my Father’s blessing! Take your inheritance—the kingdom reserved for you since the foundation of the world!”

(7)

NAILED TO THE CROSS, Jesus said:
“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.”

ASCENDED TO THE THRONE, Jesus might have said:
“Father, I have poured out the Holy Spirit on all who belong to me,
so that they might go forth in power as witnesses to my saving reign
to the ends of the earth.”

Acts 1, The Message: “What you’ll get is the Holy Spirit. And when the Holy Spirit comes on you, you will be able to be my witnesses … even to the ends of the world.” These were his last words. As they watched, he was taken up and disappeared in a cloud.

Acts 2, The Message: “Raised to the heights at the right hand of God and receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, Jesus poured out the Spirit he had just received. That is what you see and hear … Know this: There’s no longer room for doubt—God made him Master and Messiah, this Jesus whom you killed on a cross.”

Revelation 5, NIV: Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne … The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

 


Below you will find four ways that you can celebrate and continue to learn more about the importance for you of the ascension of God’s Son.

But first, let’s summarize what we’ve talked about so far. At Jesus’ coronation, these might have been the first 7 words that he spoke when he sat down on the throne of glory:

“Father, you may now receive all whom I have redeemed
because they know all I have done for them
and trust in me.”

“Truly I say to you, today and always, all who follow me are
sitting already with me on my throne in the realms of heaven.”

“Father, behold your children.
Children, come and share forever in the joy of
my relationship of eternal sonship with the Father.”

“My Father, my Father, by enthroning me today you have fully
vindicated the eternal worth of my death and resurrection,
giving me the supremacy in everything.”

“Everyone: You may now come and drink deeply
of the river of living water that flows from my throne.”

“Today my reign has only just begun to fulfill its purpose, which is
to make all things new in heaven and on earth and in you.”

“Father, I have poured out the Holy Spirit on all who belong to me,
so that they might go forth in power as witnesses to my saving reign
to the ends of the earth.”


Continue to celebrate Ascension Day 2020 like this!

(1) READ a short blog post where I share with you “Why We Need an Ascension Reformation.

(2) LISTEN to a 4-minute audio teaching where I answer this question: “Why Is Jesus Sitting at God’s Right Hand?

(3) VIEW a 12-minute video where I share (with visual aids) on “What Happened at the Coronation of the Ascension?

(4) WORSHIP as you surround yourself with Handel’s “Worthy Is the Lamb” by a full chorus and orchestra of Westminster Abbey. Or join Krissy Nordhoff as she sings “Your Great Name.

Jesus is enthroned on high! Hallelujah!

 


About the Author

Over the past 40 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ-awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular CHRIST TODAY podcast.


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