Why did Jesus go back to heaven after He rose from the dead? Was there a reason—a bigger plan—and what happened as a result of it?
“He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.” (Ephesians 4:10)
John Darby lived from 1800-1882, and it is he who wrote his famous Commentaries. They are long, and for all practical purposes as complicated in thought patterns as St. Paul’s writings, but they are worthy of study:
“The victory is complete. He has led the adversary captive. In ascending to heaven He has placed victorious man above all things, and has led captive all the power that previously had dominion over man.
Now before manifesting [showing] in person the power He had gained as man by binding Satan, before displaying it in the blessing of man on earth, He exhibits it in the assembly, His body [in us, His people], by imparting, as He had promised, to men delivered from the enemy’s dominion [in us] gifts which are the proof of that power…
But this is founded on the exaltation of Christ, who, the conqueror of the enemy, has ascended to heaven as man.
Thus exalted, He has received gifts in man, that is, in His human character…Here, having received these gifts as the Head of the body, Christ is the channel [the conveyor] of their communication to others. They are gifts for men.
Three things here characterise Him–a man ascended on high–a man who has led captive him who held man in captivity–a man who has received for men, delivered from that enemy, the gifts of God, which bear witness to this exaltation of man in Christ, and serve as a means for the deliverance of others…
But what the Lord as Head confers on individuals, they are the gifts, as His servants for forming the saints to be with Him, and for the edification of the body-the fruit of His care over them…
He has rescued us from the enemy’s yoke, and uses the privilege which His position and His glory give Him to make those who were captives before, the vessels of His power for the deliverance of others also. He gives us the right, as under His jurisdiction, of acting in His holy war, moved by the same principles of love as Himself. Such is our deliverance that we are the instruments of His power against the enemy–His fellow-labourers in love through His power…
Love brought Him down from the throne of God, and, being found as a man, through the same grace, into the darkness of death. Having died, bearing our sins, He has gone up again to that throne as man, filling all things. He went below the creature [us] into death, and is gone above it.
But while filling all things by virtue of His glorious Person, and in connection with the work which He accomplished, He is also in immediate relation with that which in the counsels of God is closely united to Him who thus fills all things, with that which has been especially the object of His work of redemption. It is His body, His assembly, united to Him by the bond of the Holy Ghost to complete this mystical man, to be the bride [the church is referred to as the bride of Christ] of this second Man [Adam is Scripturally referred to as the first man who brought sin upon all, while Christ is referred to as the second Man who took sin away], who fills all in all–a body which, as manifested here below, is set in the midst of a creation that is not yet delivered, and in the presence of enemies that are in the heavenly places, until Christ shall exercise, on the part of God His Father, the power that has been committed to Him as man. When Christ shall thus exercise His power, He will take vengeance on those who have defiled His creation by seducing man, who had been its head down here and the image of Him who was to be its Head everywhere. He will also deliver creation from its subjection to evil. Meanwhile, personally exalted as the glorious man, and seated at God’s right hand until God shall make His enemies His footstool, He communicates the gifts necessary for the gathering together of those who are to be the companions of His glory, who are the members of His body, and who shall be manifested with Him when His glory shines forth in the midst of this world of darkness.”
The reason Jesus left His followers and ascended to the Father was to send us the means we need to bring together all who will come to faith in Him, whom the Bible collectively refers to as Christ’s body. Not only did He send the Holy Spirit, but He also sent gifts which include those described in the subsequent verses “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:12-13)
Christ had both a goal—to complete His church on Earth, and a plan—to provide us with the power and gifts necessary to do this. That is why He went back to heaven, and it is from there that He is “…upholding all things by the word of His power…” (Hebrews 1:3)
Thank You that You are victorious, and that in You, we too are victorious. Thank You that You have given what is necessary for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry; help us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of You, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of You. Amen.