This is a fascination essay (a long essay, a very short book), divided in three parts. The essay asks the question, what is Jesus Christ like now that he is ascended? What is he like in heaven? How does he now relate to me? And, rather than give a careless answer, Goodwin very carefully considers some important aspects of the Scriptural evidence.
This essay demonstrates a level of exegesis which cannot easily be taught. There is a mechanical sort of analysis which looks at text and explicates the grammar and syntax. That is necessary, but when it comes to Scripture, that sort of analysis goes only part way. The necessary questions are why is this being said? What does this do? How does this part relate to the whole (context is king, but the ultimate context of Scripture is the entirety, not merely the surrounding paragraph)? I remember a line a poem (perhaps it was Stratford, it has been years since I read it, “Everything is telling one big story”.)
There is a goal to this essay:
The scope and use whereof will be this, to hearten and encourage believers to come ore boldly unto the throne of grace, unto such a Savior and High Priest, when the shall know how sweetly and tenderly his heart, though he is now in his glory, is inclined toward them [Collected Works, vol. 4, p. 95].
It ends likes this:
In all the miseries and distresses you may be sure to know where to have a have a friend to help and pity you, even in heaven, Christ;
One who nature, office, interest, relation, all, do engage him to your succor; you will find men, even friends to be oftentimes unto you unreasonable, and their bowels [their compassion] in many cases shut up towards you.
Well, say to them all, If you will not pity me, choose, I know that one that will, one in heaven, whose heart is touched with the feeling of all my infirmities, and I will go and bemoan myself to him.
Come boldly says the text, even with open mouth, to lay open your complaints, and you shall find grace and mercy to help in time of need. Men love to see themselves pitied by friends, though they cannot help them; Christ can and will do both.
Vol. 4, p. 150. In between the aim and the strike, Goodwin provides a tremendous, careful theology of Christ’s Ascension.
Part I will be next.