The problem with Thursday…. Is that it isn’t Sunday! Although Christmas Day falls on different days each year, such is its significance in our culture it is not in danger of being overlooked. Easter, in particular, and Pentecost are both celebrated on Sundays but Ascension Day (this year Thursday 30th May) is always celebrated on a Thursday, which means that it tends not to feature too prominently in the mindset and culture of many evangelical churches. It has nothing like the significance of Christmas or Easter and yet theologically it is just as important and significant.
The resurrection and the ascension of Christ are intrinsically connected and ought to be presented as such. It not just that Jesus has risen and so defeated death but that he has risen and been exalted as Lord of Lords and King of Kings. Through his ascension Jesus as the Messiah has been granted supreme lordship and dominion over all creation. There are many glorious truths that we can rejoice in because of his ascension, for example that now as reigning Lord he ceaselessly intercedes for his people. However, the ascension (and our understanding and conscious awareness of it) has huge implications for evangelism. Our obedience to the Great Commission is connected to our belief and confidence in the promises that surround it. Before commissioning his disciples (and the church) to go and make disciples of all nations, Jesus declares, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore….” Anticipating his ascension Jesus gives this as the basis, the reason why we must go to the nations with the gospel. Jack Miller writes, “believers today typically serve a much smaller Christ. We like his role of comforter and sustainer but we pretty much ignore his royal position as the conquering King…we are often more aware of human opinion than we are of Christ’s claim to have absolute authority over the whole cosmos”
There is no greater way to encourage discouraged Christians to evangelise than to present them with a vision of the reality of the ascended, all-powerful, all-conquering, majestic King Jesus. Ascension day may fall on a Thursday but we ought to teach it and celebrate it every week.
Mark Pickles is Director of Training for the North West Partnership, which involves teaching on the Ministry Training Course and engaging partner churches in the North West.
 C John Miller Powerful Evangelism for the Powerless p4