The reason Christ ascending into Heaven is depicted the same as Christ’s Second Coming is because of the words of the angels present at the Ascension:
And so the Icon depicts Jesus’ Ascension and Second Coming “in like manner”. Not that the disciples below Christ fully understand these words yet.
The distinction between heavenly peace and worldly confusion is most apparent upon the Mount of Olives. The Apostles look up in a combination of fear and wonder, their arms waving like the olive trees on the mount. In the centre, the two angels “in white apparel” exhort the men to cease their gazing into heaven and return to Jerusalem to receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. Between the two angels stands Mary the Mother of God, hands raised in prayer, not staring up, but peacefully toward us. Already overshadowed by the Holy Spirit sinceThe icon contains both confusion and peace: the former is borne of worldly reasoning, whilst the latter comes from divine, heavenly, order.
In the Scriptures, Jesus is described as being merely “taken up” into the skies and disappearing from sight behind a cloud. Seemingly contrary to this, the icon of the event shows Christ in glory: surrounded by a mandorla (or circle) of light, flanked by angels, and arrayed in brilliant golden robes. Indeed, the similarity between the appearance of Christ at His Ascension, and the appearance of Christ at His Second Coming are striking:Mary appears to understand the deep mysteries of her Son’s birth, death, resurrection and ascension, already hoping on Christ’s return. This hope brings her the divine peace shared by Jesus Christ and the angels: they all have halos signifying the grace and glory of God, whereas the disordered Apostles do not.