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The Ascension: Jesus’ Victory March Through The Cosmos

– by Adriel Sanchez

I grew up in a Mexican family with lots of cousins who were about my age. It seemed like every month, one of my cousins was celebrating a birthday, and we’d get the whole family together for the occasion. I loved those parties, especially the piñata! An uncle would climb on the roof of the house, tie the piñata to the end of a rope, and dangle it down while all the kids took turns beating up on a papier-mâché Mickey Mouse. It was awesome.

Of course, the best part wasn’t showing off your piñata stick skills (as fun as that was). The highlight of a piñata party is when it breaks open! After the small kids had their turn, the older children stepped in line.  Around this point Mickey is missing a limb, and one of the bigger cousins is preparing to bring Mickey’s suffering to an end. Every child is on edge, ready to dive forward and lay hold of the treasures about to spill out of the broken piñata. I remember rushing in, grabbing fistfuls of Mexican candy, and stuffing them in a hollow limb (piñata debris always make good candy holders on the fly). Great memories! 

With a wooden stick (the cross), Jesus Christ beat death by dying and rising again from the dead. When he ascended into heaven he caused the treasures of his victory to rain down upon his church. The ascension of Christ is an important part of Jesus’ exaltation, and without it the application of redemption becomes impossible. When he ascended, he poured his Spirit upon the church and gave gifts to his people. 

When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers (Eph. 4:8-11

The text begins with a modified quotation of Psalm 68:18, which says, “You ascended on high, leading a host of captives in your train and receiving gifts among men, even among the rebellious.” Did you catch the discrepancy? In Psalm 68:18, the ascended King receivesgifts from men, and in Ephesians 4:8, he gives gifts to men. This isn’t a contradiction, actually; I believe the apostle Paul is giving us an apostolic interpretation of Psalm 68:18. He’s suggesting that the same gifts Jesus plundered from his enemies he now bestows upon his church. Amazingly, the spoils of war are described a little earlier in Psalm 68:11-13, “The Lord gives the word; the women who announce the news are a great host: ‘The kings of the armies—they flee, they flee!’ The women at home divide the spoil—though the men lie among the sheepfolds—the wings of a dove covered with silver, its pinions with shimmering gold.” 

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The Ascension: Jesus’ Victory March Through the Cosmos

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