The Glorious Consonance of the Ascension

May 30, 2017

The idea of consonance reaches far beyond the idea of pleasant sounds or music. To be sure, consonance in music can be readily expressed and comprehended—partly because we have an innate sense of what accord or agreement should be. However, consonance, or harmoniousness, is a principle that pertains to much of life: health, relationships, society, and spiritual life.

The reality is that our longing for consonance corresponds to our daily exposure to dissonance. Broken relationships, sickness and disease, injustice, predatory economics, and sin remind us that this is not the way things were meant to be. The fragmentation and brokenness instruct us in the objective truth of how things ought to be. They hint at the beauty of concord and peace—the rightness of all things.

As Christ sits down at the right hand of the Father, He is indicating that His work is complete

As sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden, the jagged theme of dissonance wove itself around the harmonious melody of creation and the relationship between God and mankind. What was intended as the sustaining consonance of agreement, conversation, and wholeness disintegrated into a chasm of raucous, jarring discord and separation. The work of Christ restores the harmony of our relationship with God.

Too many Christians think of this restoration in terms of the cross and resurrection alone—Easter weekend. In a very real sense, the redemptive work of Christ includes the cross, the tomb, the resurrection, His ascension, and the restoration of the Holiest of Holies on the day of Pentecost. 

As Christ sits down at the right hand of the Father, He is indicating that His work is complete—redemption has been purchased and applied.

In Colossians 1:15-20, Paul gives us a glimpse of the glory of the ascended Christ:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

The blood of the cross makes peace. Makes harmony. Makes consonance. And Christ completes this work from His position of authority in heaven at the right hand of the Father. As He holds all things together, the cosmos is sustained by the word of His power. 

The Ascension is a reminder of the breaking of the bonds of discord, of the promise of true consonance, and of the reality of harmonious peace with God. This is a glorious theological reality, but it is also a promise of the sustaining power, edifying potential, and apologetic properties of beauty and harmony. Real peace and consonance are found only in the risen and ascended Lord. 

Greg Wilbur

Greg Wilbur

Gregory Wilbur is Chief Musician at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Franklin, TN, as well as Dean and Senior Fellow of New College Franklin. He is the author of Glory and Honor: The Music and Artistic Legacy of Johann Sebastian Bach and has released two CDs of his compositions of congregational psalms, hymns and service music. 

The opinions and arguments of our contributing writers do not necessarily reflect those of the Institute or it's leadership.

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