The meaning of the Ascension is the accomplishment of the importance of salvation. This gives us great joy, because the acceptance of Christ means that we were also accepted in Him. We were accepted by the Father in His Son Jesus Christ. Being united in Christ, we were accepted after being rejected from paradise. The heaven of heavens was opened for Christ in His humanity, and therefore was opened for us (our human nature). Heaven was closed to all of mankind, and mankind was expelled out of paradise. The fact that Christ ascended into the heaven of heavens, means also that heaven was opened for us. And this is what is meant by Christ being the first fruit and we follow after Him. And as He entered into the heaven of heavens as the first fruit (in His humanity carrying our human nature), we may also enter and have entered in Him, and heaven is opened for us to enter and is no longer closed to mankind.
Because Christ took our human nature (became man), He took it to be with Him forever; and He raised it to heaven. In doing so, we also, in Christ, have been accepted and have been given the capability (privilege) of entering into heaven through Christ. This is why we mention in the Holy Liturgy of St. Gregory the Theologian: “You have raised my first fruits up to heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). What is the meaning of first fruits? The flesh which our Lord God and Savior Jesus Christ took, which is the human nature, which He ascended with. This answers the question of – Did Christ really ascend in the flesh? Yes He did, and this is the meaning of His ascension openly and in front of all to see in the flesh. This confirms that His humanity parted not from His divinity. Even until now His humanity is united with His divinity.
“Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him.” (Revelation 1:7 – Zechariah 12:10). Christ when He comes sitting on the throne of His glory on judgment day, He will sit on the throne in His nature which He took, the human flesh one with Him just as He took it because it was not extracted from Him since there is no separation. His divinity parts not from His humanity, and His humanity parts not from His divinity. He ascended in this flesh in front of all and seen by all openly. And as the apostles were watching Him as He was speaking with them (Acts 1:9-11), Christ ascended into heaven and 2 angels in the form of men stood by them and spoke with them saying: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.” And this is assurance of the truth of His second coming. This is the truth that our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed in His saying: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also.” (John 14:3) We believe and await His promises and His second coming.
The angels confirm this same truth that Christ whom the apostles see asc
ending into heaven, will come again as they see Him now, that is in His humanity. This is what we proclaim in our Orthodox Creed – “… He will come again in His glory to judge the living and the dead”.
The Late Bishop Ghreghorious
General Bishop of Theological Post Graduate Studies, Coptic Culture and Scientific Research