On the Ascension of Christ

“He is the great shepherd and bishop of souls, [1Peter 2:25], and the sick, and the broken, they are his sheep, his charge, his diocese, [Ezekiel 34:16]. And to tend such as these, he looks for ever upon it as his duty, as his own expression upon the like occasion imports, ‘Other sheep I have’ (says Christ), ‘them I must bring,’ [John 10:16]… And the proper duty of his place being to show mercy, he does it with cheerfulness, as the apostle speaks. For mercy makes one do what they do with cheerfulness…

And these offices of high priest, shepherd, bishop, he has still in heaven; for ‘he continues a priest forever,’ [Hebrews 7:24]. Never fear that Christ’s great advancement in heaven should any whit alter his disposition; for this his very advancement engages him the more. For although he be ‘entered into the heavens,’ yet consider withal that it is here added, to be an high priest there; and so long fear not, for his place itself will call for mercy from him unto them that treat with him about it. And although in the heavens he be ‘advanced far above all principalities and powers,’ yet still his high priesthood goes with him, and accompanies him ; for ‘such an high priest became us, as was higher than the heavens,’ [Hebrews 7:26].

And further, though he sits at God’s right hand, and on his Father’s throne, yet that throne it is ‘a throne of grace’ as the text has it, upon which he sits. And as the mercy-seat in the type was the farthest and highest thing in the holy of holies, so the throne of grace (which is an infinite encouragement unto us) is the highest seat in heaven; so that if Christ will have and keep the greatest place in heaven, the highest preferment that heaven itself can bestow upon him, it engages him unto grace and mercy. The highest honour there has this attribute of grace annexed to it in its very title, ‘A throne of grace’ and as Solomon says, ‘A king’s throne is established by righteousness,’ and continues firm by it, so is Christ’s throne by grace. Grace was both the first founder of his throne, or his raiser to it, and also it is the establisher of it.”

Thomas Goodwin, The Heart of Christ towards Sinners on Earth [HT Kevin Carter]