Since we celebrated the ascension liturgically last week, here’s a quote from Leo the Great in Sermon 2 on the Ascension (5th c.) relating its significance. A friend here, Mark Mathews, said that it was inculcated into him from Darrell Bock that the ascension is quite important for NT theology but often neglected. I would agree that it is neglected, but I haven’t spent enough time in the Gospels and Acts to see its full significance there.
The Lord’s ascension increases the disciples’ faith because
the evidence of their eyes no longer held back their mental vision from contemplating this truth, that the Son descended from his Father without leaving him, and ascended from his disciples without departing from them. For the Son of man, dearly beloved, was revealed more perfectly and more solemnly as the Son of God once he had returned to the glory of his Father’s majesty, and in a mysterious way he began to be more present to them in his godhead once he had become more distant in his humanity. Then faith gained deeper understanding and by a leap of the mind began to reach out to the Son as equal of the Father. It no longer needed contact with Christ’s bodily substance, by which he is less than the Father. For though the glorified body remained a body, the faith of believers was being drawn to touch, not with the hand of the flesh but with the understanding of the spirit, the only-begotten Son, the equal of his Father.