This dramatic presentation gave a slight picture of how it must have been when Jesus ascended into Heaven. After his death he entered the Paradise side of Hades and released the righteous dead who then followed him into the present Heaven. (Eph. 4:8 – 10, & Acts. 2:25 – 28) Some of these “righteous dead” made brief appearances in Jerusalem after the resurrection of Jesus. (Matt. 27:52-53).
The triumphant scene of Jesus’ resurrection and ascension is described as follows: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Col. 2:15 NIV) These “powers and authorities” are described as “authorities and the powers of this dark world” and “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Eph. 6:12 NIV) This “Triumphant Procession,” described in Col. 2, demonstrates the achieved victory over the Kingdom of Satan by Christ’s death on the cross.
During the ten days between the Ascension and the Day of Pentecost, there must have been a ceremony to welcome Jesus and those who accompanied him. It may have been similar to the praise scene in Rev. 4: “The twenty four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne, and worship him who lives forever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say: ‘You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things and by your will they were created and have their being.’ ” After the welcome ceremony, there must have been many events during the next 10 days until the Day of Pentecost on the 50th day.
Perhaps the sequence of events happened as follows:
The Arrival -- The arrival of Jesus and the entourage of the righteous dead from Paradise was most exciting. We do not know how many accompanied Jesus but it would have included all who had believed in God in the same manner as Abraham. “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Rom. 4:3, NIV). A good description of this event is as follows: “Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord Almighty – He is the King of Glory” (Ps. 24:7 – 10, NIV).
The scenes in heaven reflect the splendor and brightness of the glory of God. During the life of Jesus and throughout the New Testament, we have brief glimpses of this glory. Some examples are as follows:
- On the Mountain of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appear in “glorious splendor” (Luke 9:31 NIV). In Matthew’s account of the same event, the face of Jesus shined “like the sun, and His clothes became white as light” (Matt. 17:2, NIV).
- At the resurrection of Jesus, the angels appeared to the women at the empty tomb “in clothes that gleamed like lightning” (Luke 24:4, NIV).
- After the ascension of Jesus, the angels appeared “dressed in white” (Acts 1:10, NIV).
- The angel who appeared to Cornelius was dressed in “shining clothes” (Acts 10:30, NIV).
- Jesus calls Himself the “bright and morning Star” (Rev. 22:16, NIV).
- In the last days, there will be a certain angel who comes down from heaven and “the earth was illuminated by his splendor” (Rev. 18:1, NIV).
Worship in Heaven -- Jesus is worshiped throughout heaven, as stated in Scripture:
“Let all God’s angels worship Him” (Heb. 1:6, NIV). Even though this Scripture refers to the birth of Jesus, it can surely be applied to the arrival of Jesus back in heaven where He was before the incarnation.
The praise in heaven is further described as follows: “Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights above. Praise Him, all His angels, praise Him, all His heavenly hosts.” (Ps. 148:1-2, NIV).
Universal Praise -- The praise which begins in heaven then spreads throughout the entire universe. After Jesus is “exalted above the heavens” (Heb. 7:26, NIV), He is then praised by all of creation. Psalms 29 has been called a “hymn of praise to the King of Creation” and a “hymn to Yaweh.” It must have been a part of the universal praise: “Ascribe to the Lord, O mighty ones, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness…in His temple all cry, ‘Glory!’ ” (Ps. 29:1-2 & 9, NIV).
Another part of this universal praise is described as follows: “Praise Him, sun and moon, praise Him, all you shining stars. Praise Him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the Name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created…Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds…mountains and all hills…” (Ps. 148:3-13, NIV).
The Tabernacle Scene -- Jesus enters the Tabernacle in heaven (“the greater and more perfect tabernacle” – Heb. 9:11, NIV), and, as the last High Priest, He applied His own blood as follows: “He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but He entered the Most Holy Place once for all by His own blood, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12, NIV). This is the “true tabernacle” (Heb. 8:2, NIV) in Heaven and “the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus…has entered on our behalf” (Heb. 6:19 – 20, NIV). Peter expressed it in a similar way: “…it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed…but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (I Pet. 1:18-19, NIV).
This Tabernacle in heaven is not of earthly essence but is the covering of God’s presence. After Jesus offers His own blood on the altar of heaven, He is then exalted to the right hand of God the Father as follows: “But when this priest (Jesus) had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12, NIV).
The Enthronement - Jesus ascends the throne at the Father’s right hand, where He was before the incarnation. Jesus had “humbled Himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2:8, NIV). The following is a description of Christ being enthroned at the Father’s right hand: “Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the Name that is above every name, that at the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:9-11, NIV).
Jesus is enthroned at the Father’s right hand and is “crowned with glory and honor” (Heb. 2:9, NIV), and a “golden crown” (Rev. 14:14). Another description is that He “sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). He refers to this place as “My throne,” in Rev. 3:21, and is described as being “in the midst of the throne,” in Rev. 7:17. Also, the river of life flows “from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:1 NIV). Other Scriptures which describe this enthronement are as follows:
- “After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and He sat at the right hand of God” (Mark 16:19, NIV).
- “God exalted Him (Jesus) to His own right hand as Prince and Savior” (Acts 5:31, NIV).
- “…Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1, NIV).
- “After He (Jesus) had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Heb. 1:3, NIV).
- Jesus “endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2, NIV).
Jesus is now “at the right hand of God” making “intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34, NIV). From the throne, he “speaks to the Father in our defense” (I John 2:1, NIV) or is our “advocate with the Father” (KJV). The word for advocate literally means “Someone who speaks in court on behalf of a defendant.” The compassion of Jesus is seen in that He is able to “enter experientially into a fellow feeling with our infirmities” because He was “tested in all points like as we are” (Heb. 4:15, The New Testament, An Expanded Translation, by Kenneth S. Wuest)
The Day of Pentecost – At the conclusion of this Victory Celebration, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the 120 believers who were waiting in the upper room in Jerusalem. The descent of the Holy Spirit is described as a “rushing mighty wind” which “filled all the house where they were sitting” (Acts 2:2). In other places, the Holy Spirit “fell on all them which heard the Word” (Acts 10:44), and the Holy Spirit “came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). A good literal expression of these various events is that the Holy Spirit “fell on them and tenderly embraced them.” This expression comes from the same Greek root word of “epipipto” which is used in other places such as when the father of the prodigal son “fell on his neck and tenderly kissed him again and again” (Luke 15:20, The New Testament, An Expanded Translation, by Kenneth S. Wuest). This tender expression is the same today when a believer is filled with the Holy Spirit and “tenderly embraced” by Him. This same idea is expressed in the following Scriptures: “…your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, Who is in you” (I Cor. 6:19, NIV), and the expression that we are “God’s temple” (I Cor. 3:16, NIV).
The Celebration of Pentecost continues even to today! Perhaps the next great Celebration Banquet will be at the Rapture of the believers, described as follows: “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command…with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever” (I Thess. 4:16-17, NIV).