Seward United Methodist Church
Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Highest Throne

June 1, 2014

 

Luke 24:44-53 and Ephesians 1:15-23

Today we celebrate the Ascension. Forty days after the resurrection, and ten days before the giving of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Jesus ascended back into the heavens at Bethany, a village about two miles to the east of Jerusalem, and the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.

Jesus ascended with the promise to his disciples to send power from heaven in the person of the Holy Spirit. Ephesians tells us that he ascended through the heavens and is seated at the right hand of Father, which was the place of highest honor in that culture.

There, he is far above any ruler, authority, power, or leader. Those four words in Greek were used to describe the spiritual powers that many people thought governed so much of life on earth. They believed that there were spirits at work behind the thrones of the world’s kingdoms, and these spirits existed in a hierarchy, with some being higher than others. According to their beliefs, if a spirit had it out for you, then your only hope was to call on the name of a higher spirit to help you. So this would have been reassuring to the believer in Christ to know that he is seated in the place of highest honor and has the name above all other names. Because if we are one with Christ, then we are also elevated above all other spiritual powers. They have no control over us because we belong to Christ.

From time to time I’ve heard some Christians wonder about what kind of power or influence the spiritual world has over us. Is there really such a thing as demonic influence? If so, can we be possessed or influenced by evil spirits? And of course, there are some who say that such things are just myths. Well, the good news for us is that whether or not they are real, they have no power over us if we are found in Jesus Christ. If we belong to Christ, then we are secure in Christ who is far above any power and whose power is immeasurably greater than anything we could imagine.

God has put all things under the authority of Christ for the benefit of the Church. And the Church is filled by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with his presence.

Like so many other things in Scripture, I find this idea to be filled with both promise and possibility. The promise is that we need not fear any power. If Christ is for us, then who can be against us. But that promise remains only a possibility unless it is

realized through our faithfulness. Only if we are willing to place Christ on the highest throne in our hearts do we then take hold of the promise of his power for us.

That’s not easy to do. There are so many authorities that lay claim to our lives. Our family makes a claim on our loyalties. Our nation makes a claim on our loyalties. Our friends make claims on our loyalties. Our workplace makes claim on our loyalties. Any organizations to which we belong make claims on our loyalties. And of course, we ourselves want to make the first claim on our own loyalties. Maybe the hardest claim on our lives to relinquish is our own claim, but that is also necessary if we are going to give Christ the highest place.

It’s not easy or automatic to put Christ first. But Christ quite simply will not be content to be anything other than first. He is God. He created us. When we sinned, he saved us. He won’t settle for second place.

The power of Christ also compels us to represent him faithfully to the world. The Great Commission at the end of Luke’s Gospel is based on Christ’s authority that comes from ascending through the heavens to the highest throne.

The Church is his Body. We present the fullness of Christ to the world. Christ has provided the cure for the human condition of sin. The cure is his own sacrifice for us. But just as no one doctor could cure everyone in the world suffering from the same illness, so Christ is counting on the Church to take the message of his healing to all nations. This might sounds intimidating, but it’s true: Christ is counting on us. The world can’t know what he’s done unless we share it.

And that also means that we must know him ourselves. Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians is for them to grow in wisdom, hope, and knowledge of God. We can’t faithfully represent God unless we know him intimately. And that’s a quest that takes every moment of our lives. We can’t ever stop learning about God.

Where are you growing in your knowledge of God? Are you reading Scripture regularly? And where are you gathering with other believers in a study group so that you are learning together?

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