Summary: An ascension sermon to help us see through faith that Jesus rules and reigns over all things for the good of the Church.
SEE THE ASCENDED JESUS WITH THE EYES OF YOUR HEART
1. He Rules Over All Things
2. He Rules for the Church
Years ago in a small town a man received a permit to open a tavern in that town. The members of the local church were strongly opposed to the bar, and so they began praying, asking God to intervene. Well, a few days before the tavern was scheduled to open, lightning hit the building and burned it to the ground. The people of the church were shocked, yet pleased. But then, a few days later they received notice that the owner of the tavern was suing them. He contended that their prayers were responsible for the burning of his bar. The members of the church denied the charge and said it had nothing to do with their prayers. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing in court, the judge remarked, “At this time I don’t know what my decision will be. However, it seems to me that the tavern owner believes in the power of prayer but you church people don’t.”
Dear church people, the almighty power of God, do you believe in it? The sovereign rule and reign of our ascended Savior, do you believe in it? This is the question before us today as we remember the ascension of our Lord Jesus into heaven and what his ascension means. And here this Word of God says to me as it says to you: SEE THE ASCENDED JESUS WITH THE EYES OF YOUR HEART. Yes, through faith in him, see that (1) He Rules Over All Things, and see that (2) He Rules for the Church.
Our God reigns! Not simply, God will reign, in the future. Yes, God will reign, and he will reign forevermore, as we are told in the book of Revelation, “and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev 11:15). But right now also, at this present time, our ascended Jesus reigns over all things! And at the end of this sermon we will confess that we believe this truth in the words of the Nicene Creed: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.” What does this mean – “and is seated at the right hand of the Father”? It means that Jesus reigns and rules over all things.
But we know all too well, don’t we, that we can’t simply say this without proof? After all, how can we say that Jesus is ruling over this world when terrorists fly planes into buildings, killing thousands of people? How can we say that Jesus reigns when war and civil unrest rages in the Middle East, when four million unborn babies are being slaughtered every year in our country, when seventeen million children in this world die every year from starvation and poverty induced diseases, when children in churches are being abused and sexually molested by men who are supposed to be their spiritual leaders, when businessmen steal from those less fortunate to pad their own pockets, when immorality, sex and crime are the norm for TV shows and movies? How can we say that Jesus reigns when our eyes would tell us just the opposite, that evil reigns?
Our God reigns? How? When? Where? Certainly you’ve had your doubts about this, now haven’t you? And certainly in your own life, when problems pile up one right after the other, you begin to question where God is, where is his rule over your life.
The easy way around this question is to say that eventually God will reign, that someday he’ll finally overcome evil and then there will be total peace. No, that’s not what this Word of God says. Without hesitation, without questioning it, without a problem at all, the Lord’s apostle says that Jesus reigns. “Far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.”
Look at the four words from our text on the readings insert that are underlined: power, working, mighty, and strength. The first word in the Greek is the word dunamis. In English we have the word dynamite from this word. This is God’s explosive power, his almighty power, his power to do whatever he wants whenever he wants. The second word in the Greek is the word energeia, from which we have the word energy. God’s power never runs out because God’s energy never runs out. And he’s using and working his energy and power at all times as he rules over this world. The third word in the Greek is the word kratos, and it refers to the power to be able to overcome obstacles. Nothing is too big for God, nothing too insurmountable for him. The fourth word in the Greek is the word ischuos, and refers to God’s power to function efficiently. God’s power isn’t out of control, but is in complete control.