Ascension of Christ
Forty days after the earthly death of Jesus, He was witnessed by many as He was taken up into the clouds. Prior to this, He had appeared on numerous occasions to His disciples and had spoken with them several times, exhorting them and encouraging them to stand firm in their faiths.
The question here is not whether He was taken up at all but in what form He was taken up. The last question answers the first. There are many verses in the Bible that we can use as guides in this matter. John 20:14 “…she turned around and saw Jesus standing but she did not know that it was Jesus…” Why did she not know that it was Jesus? After all Mary Magdalene knew Jesus very well and would not have under normal circumstances failed to recognise Him.
This may well point to the fact that Jesus did not have His physical body with Him. His physical self would undoubtedly have been recognised by anyone who had been close to Him. After death, He like everyone else laid aside the physical body and what remained was the soul, which is the cloak of the spirit. It is safe to assume that what Mary Magdalene saw was the soul of Jesus and not His physical body. She saw a kind of transformed body. In a strict sense, it is not really a transformed physical body but people, for a want of a better expression have come to call it a transformed physical body.
The soul is also a body but of an entirely different consistency than the physical one. It is brighter or darker and heavier or lighter depending on how the individual has lived his life. Of course in the case of Jesus one would expect it to be of the brightest white. In any case, this would explain the inability of Mary Magdalene to recognise Jesus immediately. In fact Mary Magdalene was not alone in this; the disciples too failed to recognise Him as we know from the details we have of how He walked among them on the road to Emmaus.
Aside from this lack of recognition, there were other things, for example, His ability to enter into rooms without opening doors, something which He never did when He was still with His disciples in the flesh. This would also back up the point that He was probably not in His physical body. From John 20:19 we read, “On the evening of that day, …the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them…”, another example John 20:26 “The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them and said ‘Peace be with you'”. The soul, as mentioned above is lighter and because of this characteristic, it is able to penetrate heavier matter and this would explain this phenomenon of His being able to come into rooms without opening doors.
All these and many others point to the fact that Jesus was not in His physical body. Having established this, it then becomes easier to understand that such a body as light as this is that which has the capacity and the quality of ascending. Such a body is attracted on physical death to a place in the beyond that corresponds to the nature of the soul. The lighter it is the higher it goes. As far as Jesus is concerned, since He was the inborn Son of God, it goes without saying that He was taken up to the point of His origin which lies in God.
Human spirits too when they leave their physical bodies behind, as long as they have no more sins and have completed their developments are also taken up to the point of their origin which is the spiritual realm. The disciples were given the grace to see Jesus as He was ascending upwards to the Father as their inner eyes were open to witness this very event.