Working from Home

He has put all things under His feet and has made Him the Head over all things for the Church, which is His Body, the fullness of Him Who fills all in all.            Ephesians 1:22-23

Richard G. Jordon once wrote a message that fits well for the theme of the Ascension (quoted in Pulpit Helps):

    A little girl was left alone in the house for a long time.  When her parents returned, they were worried that they might find her badly frightened because the emergency which called them away kept them absent for longer than they had anticipated.  “I wasn’t afraid,” the little girl said, “When you are here, God expects you to take care of me; but when you are gone, He does it all by Himself.”

Settle it once and forever, “God is still on the Throne, and He will remember His own, His promise is true, He will not forget you.  God is still on the throne.”  We used to sing this little chorus often, and now it comes to mind whenever things get a bit tight and seem uncontrollable.  What a glorious truth!  God does give us minds with which to think and strength with which to act and he certainly expects that using the two together, we will find most of life controllable and enjoyable and give Him praise for the ability to meet our many needs through His gifts to us.

However, when there are burdens too heavy for bearing, and loads too large for lifting, and issues too strong for controlling, then when we are the weakest, He is the strongest and remember His strength is made perfect in our weakness!  Do not ever live a moment without awareness of His power being present for your benefit.

These few sentences catch the essence of St Paul’s message in the Epistle for this morning: “God is still on His throne and He will remember His own; His promise is true, He will not forget you.  God is still on His throne.”

One of the dangers of the Ascension is to think as if Jesus was just merely going home.  After all, wasn’t His job done?  He was finished, so now the Father handed Him a trophy: the Name which is above every Name [Philippians 2:8,9], and sat Him in the place of honor [Ephesians 1:20-21].  What’s left to do but for Jesus to grab Himself something to eat and drink, put His feet up, lean back, turn on a heavenly cable channel, and relax?

That’s definitely not the message in the Epistle for today!  Why did Jesus return to heaven?  For the same reason a carpenter goes to his shop, or a mechanic goes to his garage – because that’s where his tools are.  Jesus had chosen to work from home: He returned to the place and the position of power from which He will finish the job He started on the earth.  To “finish the job”??  Wasn’t it all done when He cried out on the cross, “It is finished!”?

Well, yes, the first stage of Jesus’ task was indeed finished by that suffering and death.  That stage has the familiar major events replayed in the winter half of the church year.  What was accomplished was nothing less than utterly amazing – it is impossible to fully appreciate it all.  God the Son literally denied everything that He was by nature – accordingly to Philippians, He emptied Himself, laying aside His all-knowing, all-powerful attributes, stripping Himself of everything which made Him God.  He became the absolute opposite of what He is as God:  He came, not just into human skin, but as a tiny embryo in Mary, to be born, not a man, but a weak, totally helpless baby!

In three years of ministry He would share – share Himself in His teaching and miracles, share Himself in His death and resurrection, share Himself in Holy Communion and His Word — the cost of that sharing would at times leave Him frustrated, disappointed, even heart-wretchedly grieving concerning what He saw around Him.

But He would take share in the sin of mankind: He would spend His ministry gathering a burden of rebellion as vast as the world, as deep as  time, as great as the multitude of sins that each of us do every day: THREE years of hearing bickering and fighting, THREE years of seeing greed and dishonesty, THREE years of being the target of anger and hatred, THREE years of rejection and mockery, THREE years of handling selfishness and insensitivity – OUR bickering and fighting, OUR greed and dishonesty, OUR anger and hatred, OUR rejection and mockery, OUR selfishness and insensitivity – three years of gathering all this into a burden of unimaginable proportions.

Then on the Cross He experienced the explosive blast of the wrath of God against all this huge burden of sins He was carrying; He volunteered to experience in full the total agony and death of the separation from God the Father that the law of righteousness and holiness demands,  He would experience all the torment and the searing pain that the guilt of sin brings.  By no means was the first stage of Jesus’ work incidental.

However there is more yet to do.  Starting with the Resurrection the second stage was initiated: to subdue all things and bring them all under His Kingship, to place all His enemies under His feet as a footstool, and to bring about His unchallenged rule which will last forever.  Although this task is to be completed in full on the Last Day, Jesus is not merely playing a game of solitaire while He waits!

God the Son’s action to bring all things under submission to Him began at Easter and is going on RIGHT NOW! The first enemy placed under His feet, demonstrating His overwhelming power, is Death, whose  hitherto seeming steel claw crumpled like so much tinfoil when Jesus simply got up and left the burial chamber.  Death sat in the corner helpless and ineffective against the Lord of Life.

But this was only, merely the beginning!  Had he stayed here on earth, it would have been like trying to dig the hole for the foundations of a great skyscraper spadeful by spadeful.  No, it was as if God the Father had some heavy earth- (actually humanity-) moving machinery ready, ready to tear huge holes into the power of rebellion and of the devil.

So Jesus ascended into the driver’s seat, far above all rule and authority, far above all power and dominion, above every name that is named, with all things put under His feet.  He is ready – He sits on the throne of the Creator God of the Universe, at the elbow of God the Father Himself, and is poised to execute the second part of His task.

Surprisingly of all the heavy machinery in Jesus’ arsenal, of all which Jesus has at His disposal, the most important piece is not the angels (as we would expect), but it is the CHURCH!  YOU and ME!  Jesus will accomplish tremendous and powerful things THROUGH THE CHURCH, His People, His Body.  He is in the seat of the most powerful humanity-moving, eternity-moving equipment in the universe, and He is channeling all that power through something so ordinary and basic as ­you and me – the Body of Christ.

We are the singularly most important link in God’s plan to bring everything under His subjection!  He is already doing it and you ALREADY have a part in it!  The need for ecological responsibility – that’s part of the task to bring all things under the headship of Jesus – St Paul, in Romans 8[:19-22], says that all of nature is groaning in travail until the Sons of God are revealed.  Our discovery and exploration of outer space – that’s part of the task to bring all things under the headship of Jesus – as the earthbound Psalmist in Psalm 148 commands the sun, moon, and stars to praise the Lord.  The advances in science, the conveniences of TV and computer, the advantages of transportation and telephones, and all the other stewardships involved in our lives must also be included as Jesus puts all things under His rule.

But most important is the task we have one to each other: the task of sharing Jesus, not on Jupiter, not to the whales in the Pacific Ocean, but to the neighbor next door.  In the encompassing work of bringing all things under the Lordship of Jesus, nothing can compare with getting a fellow human being linked to the Jesus Who died for each of us.  Here is perhaps the most awesome picture that the lessons for today have: All of His power, authority, rule, and Lordship is focused upon us, and as both the first lesson [Acts 1:1–11] and the Gospel [Luke 24:44–53] emphasize, we are key witnesses.

What a thrill that is!  You are part of something on such a grand cosmic scale that it just boggles the mind!  To think that you occupy such a significant and crucial place in the second part of Jesus important task! – that is, as the youth put is, totally awesome.

But it is also humbling.  When we realize how enormous and far-reaching is the task that lies in front of us, how singularly important we are to the task, there are so many times when we can feel so feeble and powerless.  All too well we know the record of our past mistakes and failures – how can we ever be able to handle this??

So we come before the Lord and hear again two important things:  First, again, it is Jesus Who is in the driver’s seat, not us.  What comfort is in that, to know that the power and the accomplishing of the task lies in His hands, not ours.  So also is the message of what Jesus did in the first part of His task – the message not only for us to share but to take to heart for ourselves.  Jesus has forgiveness and new life for not just our neighbor, not just for the missionary’s tribe, but He also has enough for you and me.

But the second important item is a surprise: wait.  Jesus told His disciples to wait.  When we’ve been praying for someone, for how many years is it now?, it is hard to wait, but that’s because we want to take over the driver’s seat.  We want to get on with the task and the successes, but not in humility wait – wait for what?  Wait for the Holy Spirit, for the power from on High.  No, it’s not by might, nor by strength, but by My Spirit says the Lord [Zechariah 4:6].  Waiting is so hard when it involves people we care about, yet the critical power is beyond our inept and small-visioned attempts.  And so mindful of the great task before us, still celebrating in the Resurrection of Easter, we await the coming promised Holy Spirit, the power of the Father poured out upon Jesus’ Church, His Body – you and me.

So come this morning, and discover as Jesus comes to you, that He comes as the One Who sits in the seat of all power and authority.  As He focuses all this down to you and enfolds you with His love in His Body and Blood, realize how essential He has made you as all things are already being placed under His feet.  But also wait – wait for the Holy Spirit – wait for Pentecost.

Indeed, “God is still on His throne and He will remember His own; His promise is true, He will not forget you – God is still on His throne.”



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