The Ascension of Jesus to Heaven

The Bible teaches that after His resurrection from the dead, Jesus ascended to heaven in bodily form, “After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9-11.)

In other passages the Injil teaches that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3: 1), where he had originally come (John 6: 62, John 16: 28).

The Quran has one statement to confirm the ascension of Jesus but it has been enough to convince Muslims throughout the world that he is there to this day, alive in the very presence of Allah. The text reads: “But Allah took him up to himself” (Al-Nisa 4: 158).

This statement is made in contrast to the claim of the Jews that they had killed Isa Al-Masih, the son of Mary. Muslims believe he was rescued from crucifixion and taken to heaven without dying. Despite the different circumstances, both the Quran and the Bible teach the ascension of Jesus, alive and in bodily form, from earth to heaven. Significantly, the only Hadith records that mention the destiny of Jesus agree without exception that Jesus was taken to heaven.

Various Muslim teachings suggest a return of Jesus. These include various Hadiths such as Sahih Muslim (Vol 1, pg. 93), Sahih al-Bukhari (Vol 4, pg. 137), Ibn Sa’d, Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir (Vol 1, pg. 47).

But what is the reason for his ascension into heaven? The reason is implied in his virgin-birth. He ascended to heaven because he came from there in the first place. If he had returned to dust as all other men do, no Christian would believe that he was the unique Son of God.

The Quran often speaks of the throne of God (Yunus 10: 4, Al-Aaraf 7: 54, Al-Raad 13: 2, etc.). This expresses the royal sovereignty which God enjoys over the whole universe. The Bible makes the same point but, to emphasize the unique ascension of Jesus to heaven and his ultimate place there, it declares that he sat down at his right hand as sons of kings in those days sat at their father’s side, being the heirs to the throne. Many passages make this clear:

God accomplishes His great might in Christ when he raised him from the dead and made him sit at his right hand in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20).
Now the point in what we are saying is this: we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (Hebrews 8:1).

When Stephen saw the heavens opened just before his martyrdom, he declared that he saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:56). Jesus also declared that he would grant to all who conquer the right to sit at his right hand, just as he had conquered and sat down with his Father on his throne (Revelation 3:21). The Quran speaks of the throne of God—the rightful place of Jesus after his ascension to heaven is at the right hand of Him who sits on it.

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