Christ’s Ascension: The Deification of Humanity


Now when Jesus had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, “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.” Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey. (Acts 1:9-11)


Before Christians began celebrating the individual events in the life of Christ and before they began to re-enact His life through the course of each year, they tended to see all of Christ’s life as being done for our salvation. His was one life that united all things in heaven and earth and even Hades.  This union of all things is our salvation, the ending of the created order’s separation form the divine.  Christ’s birth, events in his life, His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension, were all understood as together bringing about our salvation. This is both explained in a comment by Orthodox theologian John Behr and helps us contextualize his comment:

The Passion is, in effect, the ‘assumption’ or ‘ascension’ (for both terms translate the same Greek word: ἀνάληψις) of Christ’s human nature into the divine reality, so that it is no longer known by the properties of the flesh, but rather is thoroughly permeated by, and only known by, the properties of divinity. (John the Theologian and his Paschal Gospel), Kindle Loc 1004-1006)

10181995373_7985835221_wSalvation for us is our human reunion with God in Christ. Everything Christ did is for our salvation [and so we often hear in Church things like “… who rode on an ass for our salvation…” (Palm Sunday) or “who carried in the arms of Symeon the Righteous for our salvation…” (Presentation of Christ in the Temple, February 2)] because everything Christ did united divinity to humanity, earth to heaven, our physical nature to our spiritual nature. Though Christ is God incarnate, He exhibited human characteristics, yet always was fully divine. In ascending to heaven, Christ takes our physical nature, now transformed by the resurrection into the new creation, into heaven, fully uniting our humanity to divinity for all eternity.