Rick McKinley is the Lead Pastor at Imago Dei Community, the church he planted in 2000, in Portland, OR. He is also co-creator of the Advent Conspiracy. Rick and I sat next to each other in our graduation ceremony at Gordon-Conwell some years ago and it was great to get to know him in the midst of all the waiting involved! He authored The Answer to our Cry (UK Link), Kingdom Called Desire (UK link) and This Beautiful Mess (UK link). I am very thankful to Rick for this guest post for the Incarnation Series, Rick points us to the significance of the ascension and how that ties the incarnation to us:
When it comes to the doctrine of the incarnation I think most of us leave it in the past. The Son of God took on flesh, lived the perfect human life, died on the cross then rose from the dead, went to heaven, and sent us his Spirit. The incarnation is in the past.
But the fact is the incarnation is happening now. I am not talking about the church being the body of Christ either, though I think that is a rich picture. What I am talking about is that Jesus is still the incarnate God-man living in a glorified body in Heaven as you read this line.
This is the doctrine of the ascension, which is perhaps the least talked about and under appreciated aspect of the incarnation, but without it the rest of the incarnation doesn’t mean too much to us today.
There are two powerful present day realities that are in play today because Jesus is the ascended Christ who sits at the right hand of the Father.
The first reality is that there is a man in heaven, right now, who has conquered the grave and is the first fruits of the resurrection. His resurrection and ascension seal the promise that he will resurrect us as well and bring us to the Father.
The second reality is that Jesus is ascended into heaven and at this moment is praying for you so that he can completely save you. That’s a hope that moves past my efforts, my prayers, my power and sets my confidence on Jesus. My confidence in Jesus is for sure in his finished work on the cross, but also his present work as my resurrected, glorified intercessor before the Father for the completion of my salvation.
When life seems on the brink, or our kids go off the rails, or the power has just about leaked out of your faith, remember this! Jesus is risen and reigning in heaven and he is passionately praying to the Father on your behalf. The beauty of the incarnation continues.
5 thoughts on “Rick McKinley – Where’d Jesus Go?”
“Jesus is still the incarnate God-man living in a glorified body in Heaven as you read this line. This is the doctrine of the ascension.”
I’m not clear on how that follows from what the Bible says about the ascension.
Mike, I think Rick is saying that the ascension means that the incarnation is ongoing, therefore we don’t just have a saviour two thousand years ago, but we also have a mediator and advocate today. It is established Christian truth that there is a man in heaven today, the man who is God, Christ Jesus.
It’s an established truth that Jesus is in Heaven interceding for us. I’m still not seeing where the BIble says that the ascended Jesus retains his human, as well as divine, nature. (To be clear, I am not necessarily disagreeing, just not spotting the evidence.)
Mike, you are not alone in missing the fact that Jesus will be human forever, I think a lot of us fail to dwell on this truth enough. He rose physically in the same body that had died (Luke 24:39, for instance). He ascended as a man (see Luke 24:49-51; Acts 1:9). When He returns, it will be as a man, in His body. For instance, in Philippians 3:21, when Christ returns, it says He “will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory.” When He takes us to be with Him, we will live forever, together, in our bodies, since the resurrection body cannot die (1Cor.15:42; cf 2Cor.5:1ff)
So Jesus is now a priest representing us (Heb.2:17). His merciful and faithful high priesthood is ongoing, based on who He is, not just what He remembers. The authority to judge, and to rule, is given to the Son of Man (Daniel 7). I could go on, but I think that the burden of proof really rests with someone who is going to argue that Jesus’ incarnation was a temporary arrangement. Since the Bible never offers the suggestion that the arrangement is ended, then we have a lot to appreciate about the human who has gone on ahead of us into glory, giving us confidence of what is to follow for us (Heb.2:8-9)
Very interesting. Thirty years in, this is a completely new idea to me! Many thanks for laying it out. I’ll have to think about this.