He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe.
- Ephesians 4:10
Dear Members and Friends of Grace,
“I can’t be two places at once.” Do you ever catch yourself saying that? One of the limitations of being human is that we are locally present, that is, we can occupy only one space at one time. For a while that described Jesus’ presence while he was here on earth. Yes, as true God Jesus is omnipresent, existing everywhere at once. But during his state of humiliation - from the time “he was conceived by the Holy Spirit” until the moment he rose from the dead - Jesus did not make full and frequent use of his divine power and glory. For the most part he limited himself to being present in one place at one time.
It is not so anymore since Jesus has ascended to the right hand of God. The words we read from Ephesians 4:10 teach us that Jesus ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe. When water fills a glass, there is water everywhere in the glass, touching every cubic inch. In the same way, the ascended Lord Jesus, true God and true man, fills the whole universe.
Do you remember the day of Jesus’ ascension? The disciples watched as he visibly rose from the ground and was eventually hidden by the clouds in the sky. They stood there on the Mt. of Olives, straining their eyes in the direction he had gone. “I can’t see him anymore,” they might have been thinking. “Where is he? What do we do now?”
Some of those same thoughts often cloud our minds. If only we could see Jesus, we would not so easily fall into temptation. If only we could see Jesus, we would not so easily doubt. If only we could see Jesus, that would show our coworkers and relatives once and for all. Where is he when I am tempted? Where is he when I hurt? Where is he when I face ridicule?
He ascended in order to fill the whole universe. After Jesus’ decisive encounter with sin and death, after his resurrection from the grave, there was no longer any need for him to limit himself in a state of humiliation. Scripture assures us that he is with his people everywhere at all times. At the right hand of the Father he has received all the power and glory that belongs to him as God and as our Savior. And he exercises all of it for the good of those he redeemed with his blood. In the first chapter of Ephesians we are told, “God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church” (Eph. 1:22).
Jesus said, “I am with you always,” and we place our confidence in that promise. He is with you in his Word and Sacraments. He is with you whenever you serve as his witness in your words and deeds. He is with you in your joys and your sorrows, “to the very end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Let’s not stare up at the sky, panicking, worrying, or losing heart. Let’s live in full hope as we walk through life, knowing that our Jesus walks with us.