Summary: The same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at God's right hand is at work in his people.
His Power for Us Who Believe
Ephesians 1: 15 – 23
Introduction: The kind of power that changes everything…
My dad used to tell a story about an old Georgia redneck who would routinely head out into the swamp and return with a boat full of fish—more than anyone could conceivably catch, even in a long day of fishing with rod and reel. Well, in the course of time, his exceptional good luck caught the attention of local authorities who sent out a game warden, undercover, to see what was going on. So, one morning, just as the old man was getting ready to leave the dock, he was approached by this young stranger who wondered if he might come along for the day and take a lesson.
Now the old man suspected from the beginning that something was up, but he allowed the young man to accompany him anyway, and a few moments later, the boat was headed out into the swamp at top speed.
Later, when they had arrived at a point distant enough from civilization that the young warden began to worry about his own safety, the old man turned off the engine and said, “I think this oughta do for today, don’t you agree?” Eager by this time to please, the warden nodded vigorously while the old man pulled a big old cigar from the pocket of his fishing vest, lit it, and puffed furiously ‘til the end glowed bright with heat. Then, the younger man watched in amazement as his companion removed a stick of dynamite with a medium length fuse from yet another pocket. Immediately, the secret to the good old boys luck was evident.
“What in the world are you doing?” exclaimed the young warden. “You can’t fish with dynamite! That’s a violation of more laws than I can count.”
“Yup. I ‘spect that’s true,” said his companion. But then he lit the fuse on the end of his cigar and held it for a moment as he waited for it to burn down closer to the dynamite.
By then the warden was practically in a frenzy—desperately looking for some way of escape even as he shouted at the old man, “You just can’t do this! It’s completely illegal.”
“Yup. I s’pose so,” said the old man; and with that he handed the dynamite to the young warden at the last possible moment and said calmly, “Now, do you wanna talk, or fish?”
And we are left to imagine the impact on the ecosystem as the game warden tosses the dynamite away, wreaking havoc on the local fishery.
Of course, in truth, dynamite is nothing to play with. I mean, it looks innocuous enough to the untrained eye, I suppose—just a cardboard tube with a piece of string hanging out one end. But when used as intended, it can release a power that is all disproportionate to its size. But that’s why it’s called “dynamite”. The name itself is practically a transliteration of the Greek word for power—dunamis—the very word that is used here in Ephesians to speak of the power that God exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his own right hand “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion…” You see, that power—the power of God—like dynamite, contains an energy which, when released, changes everything.
It certainly did in the case of Christ. He was dead—truly dead—he’d been in the tomb for three days and three nights when God lit the fuse and unleashed the power of his own Holy Spirit to bring life out of death, to break the power of sin, and in fact, to “make all things new” and ultimately, that’s the message of Easter, Ascension Day and also of Pentecost. The power of the living God—the power that inevitably changes everything it touches—has been loosed in our world.
More specifically, the message of Ephesians is not only has this power been turned loose in our world; this power that changes everything has been turned loose in our lives. You see, the focus of this amazing little letter has been on God from almost the very first verse; but the focus, in particular (as we saw last Sunday) has been on the amazing ways in which God has blessed his people “in Christ”: (verse 7) in him we have the forgiveness of sin; (verse 11) in him we were chosen—we have an inheritance, having been predestined according to the plan of God; and (verse 13) in him—that is, in Christ—we have been marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is the guarantee in the here and now of the eternal life which is ours already in Christ. Paul tells his readers that God has done all of these things for his people in Christ and then, even as he prays that God would open our eyes to see it, he writes that all that has been done has been done in us by the “working of his great strength” in accordance with the very same power that he exercised in Christ “when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his own right hand in the heavenly places…”