So it has been quite a while since i originally did my questionnaire regarding the ascension. As promised, i wanted to follow up and offer my own take on the ascension.
Yes Jesus did have ascend into heaven after the resurrection. Many have rightly pointed out that this was necessary for the sending of the Holy Spirit (cf Jn 14:25-26, 16:5-16).
However, there is more than just this. Jesus’ ascension was so necessary due to the fact of Jesus’ position at the right hand of the Father. Here, according to Hebrews, Jesus intercedes on our behalf with prayers, which as a perfect, holy and blameless high priest is able to save us completely (7:24-26).
So here we see that it is not only Christ’s atoning death, but continual intercession on our behalf which makes our salvation sure. However, the significance of Jesus’ position at the right hand of the Father cannot be understood apart from an understanding of the Holy Spirit’s role.
According to the Torrance brothers, the Holy Spirit takes our prayers, muddied as they often are with self-advancement, vengance, and even sometimes with simply “groaning words cannot express,” the Spirit takes them back to the Son, where He is able to purify them via His intercession on our behalf, and presents them to the Father as “perfect prayers,” for lack of a better term. So to answer my 3rd question in my original post, the ascension matters a great deal today in this paradigm, because it makes prayer possible.
While i think there is some merit to this view, i have some problems with it. Here is one initial struggle for me: It seems like the integrity of “our” prayers are lost when Jesus cleans them up. Can God not handle our struggles?
However, i think the Torrance’s striving for a way to understand prayer as more Trinitarian in nature is to be commended. Any thoughts on this?