Summary: According to these verses from Ephesians 4:7-16 Jesus ascended into heaven to be better able to provide for his followers.
Where should a coach stand while his team is engaged in an athletic contest? The rules for various sports often dictate where a coach can stand during a game, meet, or match. But it makes sense that the coach should stand where he or she can see what’s going on and also be able to offer advice and encouragement to his or her team. Where should a general stand when his army is battling the enemy? Well, he needs to be close to the combat but not too close. He needs to be able to get “the big picture” of the whole battlefield. Where should the leader of a nation live and keep his office? Ideally I suppose a president or prime minister should be where he can have the most contact with the most people. A leader’s office should be accessible to as many people as possible and shouldn’t be isolated from the issues and problems facing the people he or she serves. Where should the CEO of a major company with offices around the world spend his working hours? The employees of the company might have all kinds of ideas for where their boss needs to be. But obviously he needs to be in the place where he can be most effective and can give the best leadership.
Today as we remember the ascension of Jesus forty days after his resurrection let’s answer a similar question about him. As the leader of all who receive salvation through faith in him where is the best place for Jesus to be. It seems that the disciples thought the best place for Jesus to be was with them as he had been for over three years. We might think that Jesus should live out here near us in the suburbs of Cincinnati. Comparing Jesus to a coach where should he stand to help us who are running the race of faith? Picturing Jesus as a commander where is the best place for him to lead his soldiers as they fight the good fight of faith? And as the ruler of the Kingdom of God where should he keep his office? And because Jesus is the president and CEO of the company of the saints where is the best place for him to do his work?
According to these verses from Ephesians 4:7-16 Jesus ascended into heaven to be better able to provide for his followers. At the right hand of God the father in the glory he had before the creation of the world Jesus can take care of all the needs of all his followers. May the Holy Spirit work through our time in this portion of Scripture so that we take to heart the Apostle Paul’s message for us to:
“RECEIVE GIFTS FROM YOUR ASCENDED LORD”
I. Jesus gives grace to all his followers
II. Jesus gives leaders for all his followers
III. Jesus gives growth and strength to all his followers
From a human perspective the Apostle Paul could have been wondering about the wisdom behind Jesus’ ascension into heaven. After all Paul wrote this letter to the Ephesians while he was a prisoner in Rome. It might have seemed as though Jesus had forgotten him and the whole Christian church on earth. But through the Holy Spirit Paul didn’t look at things that way. He was convinced that Jesus had ascended to the highest throne in the whole universe. From there at the right hand of the Father Jesus ruled all things for the good of his church. He sends exactly what his followers need, when they need it.
Listen again to how Paul revealed his understanding that Jesus was exactly where he needed to be to rule all things for the good of those who love him. “7 But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it. 8 This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he led captives in his train and gave gifts to men.” Through the eyes of faith that the Holy Spirit gave to Paul he saw Jesus’ ascension as a great source of blessing for his followers on earth. The ascension restated loudly and clearly that Jesus had won complete victories over the curse of sin, Satan’s accusations, and the grave’s power. Then from his high throne in heaven he is able to dispense his grace.
The most obvious gift of grace that Jesus gives from his place of power is the forgiveness of our sins and eternal salvation. Paul stated that truth back in Ephesians 2:8-9 of his letter, “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” And how did that grace reach the Ephesians? It came to them through the ascended Lord Jesus who was working through the Word of God and the Sacraments he instituted for his church on earth to use. None of Jesus’ followers had to make a trip to the “home office” in Jerusalem in order to receive forgiveness. Since he rules all things and fills all things he can bring grace to people everywhere as the gather in his Name.