Christ's Entrance into Heaven
February 17, 2015
Have you ever wondered what it must have been like when Christ entered heaven after having ascended? This was a unique moment in redemptive history, and one that we should probably meditate upon a lot more than we do. At the risk of being occasionally speculative, here are some thoughts on Christ's entrance into Heaven as the glorified God-man.
The effect upon those in heaven must have been incredible. We are told that there is much joy in heaven when a sinner repents (Lk. 15:7). But what about the joy when Jesus, who saves all who enter heaven, arrived to take his seat at the right hand of the Father? As John Owen said, "No heart can conceive, much less can any tongue express, the glorious reception of the human nature of Christ in heaven" (Exposition of Hebrews, 5:410).
Heaven and earth were in need of reconciliation. Here, Christ enters as the one who has united all things together, "things in heaven and things on earth" (Eph. 1:10). With his entrance into the heavenly sanctuary, the holy angels, with open face, beheld the Lord of glory. What they had longed for was now fulfilled (1 Pet. 1:12).
John Flavel considers Christ's ascent and entrance into heaven from the perspective of the Father:
"The Father received him with open arms, rejoicing exceedingly to see him again in heaven; therefore God is said to 'receive him up into glory,' 1 Tim. 3:16. For that which, with respect to Christ, is called ascension, is, with respect to the Father, called assumption. He went up, and the Father received him. Yes, received so as none ever was received before him, or shall be received after him" (Works, 1:506).
Jesus assured his disciples it was for their good that he left in order that "the Helper" may come (Jn. 16:7). But we should remember that his coming to heaven was also good for the departed saints in glory, the angelic host, the Father, and especially Jesus himself, who was "taken up in glory" (1 Tim. 3:16).
No wonder that John Owen reflected, so beautifully,
"This makes me judge that the season of Christ's entrance into heaven, as the holy sanctuary of God, was the greatest instance of created glory that ever was or ever shall be, unto the consummation of all things" (Works, 1:264).
Heaven was a "new" place when Christ arrived in order to continue his ministry of reconciling all things. Heaven was as perfect as it could be before Christ entered. But it was also as perfect as it could be once he entered. Heaven attained a greater glory with Christ's entrance. Thus, there is little doubt that heaven in its perfection after Christ's triumphal entry was a place where those present had an increase of joy and satisfaction that the Son had returned home as the victorious one.