You have ascended on high, you have led captivity captive: you have received gifts for men; yes, for the rebellious also…
I. OUR LORD'S TRIUMPH WAS SET FORTH BY HIS ASCENSION. Dwell on the fact that He, the Son of David, who for our sakes came down on earth and lay in the manger, and hung upon a woman's breast, has gone up on high, into the glory infinite. He that trod the weary ways of Palestine now reigns as a King in His palace. He that sighed, and hungered, and wept, and bled, and died, is now above all heavens. He that was earth's scorn is now heaven's wonder.
II. OUR LORD'S TRIUMPHAL ASCENT DEMONSTRATED THE DEFEAT OF ALL OUR FOES. Easily may the sheep follow where the Shepherd breaks the way. We have but to follow those heavenly feet, which once were pierced, and none of our steps shall slide. Move on, O soldiers of Jesus, for your Captain cries, "Follow me!"
III. OUR LORD'S TRIUMPHANT ASCENSION WAS CELEBRATED BY GIFTS.
1. What are these .great ascension gifts? I answer that the sum of them is the Holy Spirit. I invite your adoring attention to the sacred Trinity herein manifested to us. "Thou hast ascended on high:" there is Christ Jesus. "Thou hast received gifts for men:" there is the Father, bestowing those gifts. The gift itself is the Holy Spirit. This is the great largess of Christ's ascension, which He bestowed on His Church at Pentecost. Thus you have Father, Son, and Holy Spirit blessedly co-working for the benediction of men, the conquest of evil, the establishment of righteousness. O my soul, delight thyself in Father, Son, add Holy Spirit.
2. But observe, according to Paul, these gifts which our Lord gave are embodied in men; for the Holy Spirit comes upon men whom He has chosen, and works through them according to His good pleasure. Hence he gave some, apostles, some, evangelists, and some, pastors and teachers. No one may be judged to be given of God to the Church in any of these offices unless as the Spirit dwells upon him.
IV. OUR LORD'S TRIUMPH HAS A VERY SPECIAL BEARING FOR THE UNCONVERTED. "Thou hast received gifts for men," not for angels, not for devils, but for men — poor fallen men. Does the text particularly mention " saints," or those that have not defiled their garments? No, I do not read of them here. What a strange sovereignty there is about the grace of God! Truly He will have mercy on whom He will have mercy; for in this instance He selects for special mention those that you and I would have passed over without a word. "Yea, for the rebellious also."
V. OUR LORD'S TRIUMPHANT ASCENSION SECURES THE CONSUMMATION OF HIS WHOLE WORK. "That the Lord God might dwell among them." When our Lord Christ came here at the first He was willing enough to "dwell" among us; but it could not be. "The Word was made flesh and tabernacled among us," like a Bedouin in his tent, but not as a dweller at he, me. He could not "dwell" here on that occasion. He was but a visitor, and badly treated at that. After He had risen again, He went home, that from this throne He might direct a work by which earth should become s place where God could abide. Again is the temple of God to be with men, and He shall dwell among them.
( C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.