March 20, 2022
1 Peter 3:18-22 NIV
18 For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. 19 After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— 20 to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, 21 and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.
Where is Jesus? And why does it matter?
Here is what Peter knew. In the midst of their last conversation with Jesus on earth this happened. There were no good-bye’s. He told them the Holy Spirit was coming and some of what that would mean. Then this happened:
9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” Acts 1:9-10
So here’s a question. Where is heaven? Let’s go back to the beginning. I noticed something in recent years I missed the first several hundred times I read the first verse of the first chapter of the Bible.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1
I never noticed until recently how in the beginning God created the heavens. Creation is not just the earth but also the heavens. Was the preexistent God not already in heaven or “the heavens” before Creation? Apparently not. This original creation of the heavens and the earth crafted the habitat for God and God’s image bearers to dwell together in relational union. My sense is the heavens were “other” than the earth and yet permeated the earth in an indivisible fashion resulting in a garden of abundant flourishing.
I find it interesting how what we call “The Fall” is nowhere named as such in the Bible as far as I can tell. Biblically speaking, it seems like it should be called “The Curse,” at least this was the impact and the primary effect was division and separation—the division between human beings and God; between human beings and each other and within themselves, the division between human beings and the Creation itself—and finally, the division between the heavens and the earth. The flourishing epic of Eden ended with God in the heavens and his image bearers as exiles on earth.
The rest of the Bible reveals the circuitous, surprising story of God’s plan to rescue his image bearers, reverse the curse, restore the union and reunite the heavens and the earth. Here’s an alliterative plot line for you: Creation. Curse. Covenant. Christ. Church. Culmination. ;0)
So back to our question: Where is Jesus and why does it matter?
11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Those first Christians didn’t experience Jesus as a spiritual feeling. Jesus was not some intangible spiritual experience for them. He was a real physically embodied person—so knowing where he was mattered as much to them as knowing him personally. They understood the end of the age had broken in upon them. The end of the beginning had arrived. They now lived in the beginning of the end. The defeat of evil had dawned and enemies of God were being fashioned into his footstool.
We have essentially lost this whole concept in our time. I’ll just say it. Jesus is real to us, but not like he was real to them. He is real to us primarily as a spiritual experience, a divine being with whom we have a sense of relationship in our hearts. And this is not bad. It’s just not near enough. And it’s not really the vision of the New Testament Church Jesus is building and the Kingdom he is bringing “on earth as it is in heaven.”
Jesus Messiah sits enthroned in the heavens (a real place) at the right hand of the Father in a physical albeit glorified body made of human flesh where he lives to intercede for all who follow him, reigning and ruling as the Lord of heaven and earth, as commander in chief of the angel armies, as the head of the Church, the first fruits of the resurrection, the firstborn from among the dead—the sovereign King of all that is, was, and ever shall be—world without end, Amen.
So where is Jesus?
Jesus is just through the veil in the unseen realm known as the heavens. He is beyond our sight yet closer than our breath. He is right here, right now.
Jesus, you are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. You are risen and exalted as the Ascended God of Heaven and Earth. Open the eyes of my heart and wake me up to the real reality. Holy Spirit, parse out all the implications of this mind blowing reality for us. And let this revelation cause us to combust in worship. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.
What thoughts are churning in your heart and mind in light of what Jesus is revealing to you just now? What connections is the Spirit making?
For the Awakening,