Summary: A sermon on what the head and the body of Christ mean (Outline taken from Dr. Jack Cottrell in his book, The Faith Once For All, chapter 23, The Church: Its Nature)
Bring children up front and do this children’s minute with them:
I am sure that you all know the song, “This Little Light of Mine.” I want you to help me sing that song this morning. While we sing it, I’m going to hold this light up and let it shine all around. (Start to sing the song, but stop when you notice that the light isn't shining.) I wonder what is wrong, my light isn't shining. (Someone will probably notice that it isn't plugged in.) Oh, here's the problem, my light isn't plugged in. (Plug the light in)
Now that we are plugged in, let’s try it again. (Sing) Oh, that was much better. The lamp was shining brightly, wasn't it? It's pretty hard for a light to shine when it isn't connected to the power source, isn't it? Well, actually, it isn't just hard -- it's impossible!
In the Scripture read by Eli (or Cody), Jesus told his disciples a story to teach them the importance of staying connected to him. Of course Jesus didn't use a lamp to tell his story, because electricity hadn't even been invented yet. Instead, Jesus used an example that his disciples would understand. He used the example of a vine. You know what a vine is, don't you? It is a plant with a lot of branches growing out from it. The branches have fruit on them. If it is a grapevine, the branches should have grapes on them.
Have you ever seen a branch that has been broken off of a tree or a vine? What happens to it? That's right, it withers up and dies. Can it made any fruit? No, it isn't any good for anything.
Jesus said, "I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me, you will have much fruit, but apart from me, you can do nothing." Jesus wants us to produce a lot of fruit. Good fruit like being kind, generous, and faithful. Most of all, he wants us to love others as he has loved us.
Can we do that on our own? No way. Just as the lamp must be plugged in before its light can shine, and just as the branches must be connected to the vine before they can produce fruit, you and I must stay connected to Jesus to produce the good fruit that God expects of us.
An elderly woman was being conducted through a great cathedral in Europe. The guide spoke of its beauty of design, calling attention to the statues and painting. The woman was unimpressed. At the conclusion of the tour she asked the guide, “How many souls have been saved here this year? How many people come to worship God here?” “My dear lady,” said the guide, “this is a cathedral, not a chapel.” That’s the trouble. We have too many cathedrals and too few chapels.
Christ “is the head of the body, the church”- Colossians 1:18. What this picture is trying to make us see is that the church is like a human body in all its parts, with the head representing Jesus Christ and the rest of the body from neck to toes representing the church.
Thesis: This head to body relationship is telling us 3 things
Our relationship to Christ is one of submission.
Jesus Christ is the leader, the one in authority.
This headship submission relation between Christ and the church is clearly talked about when Paul says that “Christ is the head of the church, his body” and “the church submits to Christ”- Ephesians 5:23-24.
Ephesians 1:22-23: And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. We might think that Paul is talking about how the head is the home of the brain, which controls much of the body’s functioning. While this is very true, Paul probably means when he says “head” as to “authoritative ruler” in these verses.
Jesus and Jesus alone is the final authority for all things relating to the church.
He exercises this authority through his apostles and prophets, whose teaching comes to us in the form of the NT Scriptures. Since these writings are in effect the very words of Christ our head, they possess the absolute authority of Christ himself.
John 16:13-15: But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.