Mark 16:14-20 - Festival of Christ’s Ascension - May 29, 2014We confess in the Creed that Jesus ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty, and that from thence he will come to judge the living and the dead. What does “thence” mean? Why don’t we just say “from there”? The reason is so we don’t get the idea that the right hand of the Father is some distant geographical location. It isn’t. If we said, “and from there he will come,” it might sound that way. But “thence” means more. It means not only from that time and place, but it also means from that source, or position of authority. This is to say that when Christ returns, he will judge the earth with the same authority by which he ascended into heaven, and with the same authority by which he has been ruling his Church for the last 2,000 years.
And what is this authority? Of what does it consist? His authority consists in the forgiveness of sins, the rescuing from death and the devil, and the giving of eternal salvation to all who believe. It is through the means of grace that Christ exerts his authority as the King of kings and Lord of lords over all nations, and indeed over all creation. And it is by distributing this salvation which he has won that he shall reign forever and ever. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.”