In 40 days after His resurrection, Jesus Christ ascended to heaven, opening this path to people. What is the meaning of the Ascension? If the Lord opened the doors of paradise, then why do they call the apostle Peter the bearer of the keys of paradise? Where is the place where the Savior ascended, what is now there? Can we find prophecies about this event in the books of the Old Testament? How did the early Christians celebrate this holiday? Let's try to answer these and other questions related to the Ascension of the Lord.
Do you know where Christ is after His Ascension?
The answer to this question is contained in the sixth verse of the Creed: "And he ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father." Ascension is the crown of the sacrifice of Christ: the slain Lamb is destined for the Father, showing in its God-man personality the restored unity between God and man. In this regard, in the epistle of the Apostle Paul to the Jews, we read: "He, having brought one sacrifice for sins, sat down for ever on the right hand of God" (Hebrew 10: 12). And the apostle Paul writes about where Christ was taken up: "For Christ entered not into the made-up sanctuary in the image of the true one, but in the very heavens, to appear now for us before God" (Heb. 9: 24).
The atoning death on the cross, the resurrection and the ascension are connected so closely that the Lord speaks of them as an indivisible whole: "And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to myself" (John 12: 32). By His Resurrection, the Savior overcame death and sovoskresil with Himself human nature, and Ascension - opened the man's way to Heaven, where none of the people ascended before (Jn. 3: 13). The Holy Fathers wrote about this as follows:
"As Christ has risen from the dead, and He does not possess death, so when He ascended and ascended in the highest, the whole height is under His feet, to all witnessing that He is God over all. And this was the "revealed mountain of God," as Isaiah says (Isaiah 2: 2), and on the top of all reasonable mountains - "the house of God" - the Body more Lordly. For not an Angel, not a man, but the Lord Himself came and saved us by becoming like us and, at the same time, always being God. How, when He came down, He did not change His dwelling, but descended, and rising again, He did not return to the Divine, but He planted our nature, perceived by Him, on our throne. For, verily, it was fitting for God to present our nature as the first-born of the dead, as a certain beginning of the firstborn on behalf of the whole race "(St. Gregory Palamas).
Our Lord ascended from Heaven to us to open to us the doors of heaven
"Our Lord ascended from Heaven to us, to open to us the doors of heaven and that we should enter the sky unblockingly. Our forefather Adam closed the heavenly door for the whole human race, made it impenetrable for all the earth-born, and the cherub rose with fiery weapons at the door of the Paradise; Adam closed the paradise and the way to life, and opened only the entrances to death and hell. Our Lord did the opposite: closed the entrances to death and hell, and opened heaven: first the robber, to whom he said: "Be with me in paradise" (Luke 23: 43), and then, through His ascension, opened the heavens itself. Our Lord does not carry the keys of the kingdom and life as he carries the keys of death and hell: where there are no gates, there is no need for the keys, for at the ascension of the Lord the heavenly gates are completely taken away and will never be closed afterwards, as written about this Revelations: "His gates do not shut themselves up in days: there will be no burden" (Apoc. 21: 25). Therefore, the keys are not needed there. The Lord Himself does not wear them, but gave them to Peter and the other apostles, as if to say: "I do not need them; you wear them and already open the hole, open the uncapped one, unlock the unlocked; if only someone who has blocked himself with his will to enter the heavenly entrance, you can help these keys, the next one is free for me without a key, for the gates are not closed to them and, like those taken away, can not be shut up "(St. Demetrius of Rostov) .
The following for Me is free entrance (to paradise) and without a key, for the gate is not closed to them
Despite the fact that in the Ascension the Lord withdrew visibly from the disciples, He remained with the Church His Divine nature, as He says in His promise: "Behold, I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28: 20) . This is the antinomy of the holiday - the Risen Lord remains with man. By the Holy Spirit Christ entered after ascension to the Church, to abide in it for ever.
Did you know that the Ascension always falls on Thursday, although it is in the mobile circle of the liturgical cycle?
A holiday is celebrated on the fortieth day after Easter, as from the Resurrection from the dead to the Exaltation, the Lord stayed on the earth for forty days. The holiday always falls on XXXXX week after Easter.
Did you know that the prophecies of the Messiah fulfilled in the Ascension of Christ?
The most glorious Messiah as king was sung by the prophet David. In the 46 Psalm, he describes the accession of the Messiah, and in his words we learn the events of the Ascension of the Lord. The prophet sings: "God went up at the shouting" and "for the shields of the earth are God's [chosen ones]; He is exalted above them "- and we remember that Christ ascended, ascended to heaven. "God sat on His holy throne" - according to His Ascension Christ sat on the throne next to the God-Father.
Do you know that the Ascension of the Lord showed us Jesus as the Son and as God?
Christ, first, manifested himself as God. In fact, through His Ascension and accession in human flesh, He completes His earthly saving ministry, reveals to all who believe in Him the way to the Kingdom of Heaven and gives Christians the opportunity to be where He is. The Lord Himself says this: "I will go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to Myself, so that you too may be where I am" (John 14: 2-3); "Where I am, there also will my servant be" (John 12: 26).
The Prophet David sings: "God has risen at exclamations"
He manifested Himself and as the Son, who was faithful, obedient to the Father even before the death of the Cross. Therefore He receives from the Father an "inheritance" - the Kingdom of Heaven, which he owns together with the Father and who promises to believers: "In my Father's house there are many mansions" (John 14: 2-3). He, according to His human nature, receives from the Father eternal glory, which he prayed in the high priestly prayer: "Father, the hour has come, glorify your Son, and your Son will glorify You "(John 17: 1).
It should be remembered that both the Incarnation in human nature and its presence "at the right hand of the Father" did not change the intra-Trinity relationships, for the Tri-Pastern God is immutable and unchanging.
The same path leads to bloody sweat, to the cross, and to Olivet - to heaven
Did you know that in the early Church the celebration of Pentecost and Ascension was not divided?
The feast of Pentecost is dedicated to the Descent of the Holy Spirit on the apostles on the fiftieth day after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (and on the tenth day after the Ascension). The Lord's exaltation is one of the most important events in the history of the New Testament Church. From the visible image Christ enters the image of the presence of the invisible. Until the end of the IV century, the celebration of the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost was not divided. Pentecost was understood as a special period of the church year, and not a holiday. According to J. Danielle, the division of the two festivals occurred after the condemnation of the heresy of Macedonia (rejecting the Divine Spirit) at the Second Ecumenical Council (381) and aimed to emphasize the special role of the Holy Spirit in the economy of salvation. Thus, it was only from the 4th century that Pentecost finally took shape, not only as a special period after the Passover, but also as an independent holiday.
Pentecost was understood not as a holiday, but as a special period of the church year
Do you know why the disciples asked Christ: "Is not this time, O Lord, that you restore the kingdom to Israel"?
Theophylactus of Bulgaria writes that the disciples wanted to know more about getting the Holy Spirit and get rid of disasters and suffering right now, not wanting to expose themselves to dangers. Speaking about the restoration of the Kingdom, the apostles assumed an end and the establishment of the dominion of Christ in their understanding: Christ is the earthly King who rules on earth as others do. But his kingdom is not of this world - this is what the apostles did not understand because they did not yet receive the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the blessed Theophylact says: "It seems to me that for them it was not clear what a kingdom it is". Therefore, the Lord does not give them a direct answer, because at the descent of the Holy Spirit they will think differently and will themselves understand the essence of these words.
Do you know where the place from which Christ ascended is?
"Then they returned to Jerusalem from a mountain called Mount Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, in the distance of the Sabbath" (Acts 1: 12). Mount Eleon (Pancake Mountain) is a hill stretching from north to south against the eastern wall of the Old City of Jerusalem, on the eastern side of the Kidron Valley. From ancient times it was planted with olives, from where its name originated. On the Mount of Olives there are many Orthodox shrines, among them - the tomb of the Mother of God, two Russian women's monasteries. Also on the Mount of Olives there are two Catholic churches and an ancient Jewish cemetery - to be buried there is considered a great honor (today the cemetery has at least 150 000 graves).
Here, on the Mount of Olives, is the famous Gethsemane garden, in which the Savior prayed before his cross suffering.
Temple of the Ascension on the Mount of Olives
Do you know how the Ascension is related on the 40 day after the Resurrection and the commemoration of the departed on the 40 day?
The forty-day period is very significant in the history and tradition of the Church as the time necessary for preparation, for the adoption of a special Divine gift of the blessed help of the Heavenly Father. The Prophet Moses was honored to converse with God on Mount Sinai and receive from Him the tables of the law only after the forty-day fast. The Israelites reached the promised land after forty years of wandering. Our Lord Jesus Christ ascended to heaven on the fortieth day according to His Resurrection. Taking all this as a basis, the Church established a commemoration on the fortieth day after death, so that the soul of the reincarnated person ascended to the holy mountain of the Heavenly Sinai, received the sight of God, achieved the bliss she promised, and settled in the heavenly settlements with the righteous.