Today’s post is by Nate Palmer. Nate is the author of Servanthood as Worship: The Privilege of Life in a Local Church (Cruciform Press, 2010). You can follow him on Twitter at @palmernate.
In the book Seeds of Change: Six Plants That Transformed Mankind, Henry Hobhouse writes that the most influential plants in man’s history are sugar cane, tea, cotton, the potato, and cinchona plant. Most of us are very familiar with nearly all of the plants on Hobhouse’s list. The one curious oddity in the list is the cinchona plant. Most people have no clue what the cinchona plant even looks like let alone its roll in transforming mankind.
Native to South America, this special plant grows on the foothills of the Andes Mountain range. The Cinchona calisaya tree, which contains a special alkaloid known as quinine, single-handedly enhanced the welfare and safety of millions of lives. Despite the fact that people still use it daily to combat Malaria, the typical person in the 21st Century is actually quite unaware of the magnitude of the cinchona tree’s importance to mankind or even to their own life.
The cinchona plant was a major catalyst that helped form the modern geo-political and economic landscapes. By making colonization and exploration of the Americas and Africa possible, the cinchona allowed international trade to flourish in every corner of the globe.
In much more tragic omission, most modern Christians are equally unaware of the importance of Christ’s Ascension to their everyday life. The Ascension’s value to mankind is much more vast and profound than the medicinal effects of the cinchona plant. It ushered in a new era of Christ’s glorification and power. An ascended Christ is just important to understanding of who Christ is, but it is also vital to the ordinary and everyday life of the believer.
The wondrous impact of the ascension on the Christian life finds in roots in both the union with Christ as well as the provision of the great Helper – the Holy Spirit to guide and empower God’s people. Without an ascended Christ, there is no High Priest ruling and reigning over all creation, our assurance of heaven is in serious doubt, and we would not be living temples in which God’s Spirit resides helping us understand the things of God. In short, without an Ascension every book past John wouldn’t exist and our union with Christ stops at an earthly resurrection. But before delving into its importance to us, it is necessary to first understand the specifics of the Ascension what that says about Christ.
According to the book of Acts, Christ’s Ascension occurs forty days after His resurrection. During this interim period, Jesus proceeds to confirm his “Christ-ship” with his disciples and encourage them to believe in Him. Luke writes that Christ “presented himself alive to them after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.”(Acts 1:3) After the forty days of ministering, Jesus leads his followers on small journey to Bethany outside of Jerusalem. [Read more...]