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Sermon for May 21, 2020, The Ascension of Our Lord

Ephesians 1:20-23 (The Ascension of Our Lord)

“He Ascended for Your Benefit”

Lutheran Church of Our Redeemer, Enfield, CT

May 21, 2020

 

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Ephesians 1:20-22:

20 He raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.

 

           Perhaps the hymnwriter says it best:

Look, ye saints, the sight is glorious;
    See the Man of Sorrows now!
From the fight returned victorious,
    Ev’ry knee to Him shall bow. (LSB 495:1)

 

          Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, David’s Lord, was shamefully crucified. But this crucified Messiah was bodily raised from the dead and exalted above all. See the Man of Sorrows now, crowned with glory and honor (Heb. 2:9)! Jesus, the Risen and Ascended Lord, reigns at the right hand of God. He rules over all governments, over all powers and rulers of darkness. He reigns even over death itself! Jesus of Nazareth, fully divine and fully human, is the exalted Lord. But to whose benefit? To yours! God the Son, One of the Holy Trinity, became one of us, our brother. Your brother now reigns for you.

          Jesus reigns and rules over all things for your benefit and blessing. Jesus, as true man, is over every authority. All things are under His feet. Ephesians 1:20-22, God the Father “seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.”

As a result of His death and resurrection, “Christ fully trounced the enemy. The mopping up of Satan’s forces may continue throughout the age of the church, but in principle they are already defeated. . . . Christ’s ascension above the heavens, above all spiritual forces . . . means that already now we benefit from his great victory. Christ brings forward the benefits of the full-blown, without-remainder dominion over Satan’s forces that characterizes his coming in majesty on the Last Day.”[1] When Christians today face the hostilities of earthly forces that persecute or threaten us, we cannot lose sight of the real enemy behind these flesh-and-blood attacks—the spiritual forces of the devil. They seek to hurt and harm us. They seek to lead us into temptation and unbelief. They seek our life spiritually and physically. But the triumph of Christ who has ascended into heaven at the right hand of power and majesty means that these evil forces no longer rule over the Christian. Christ is now our Head. “His name is the greater power that his baptized brothers and sisters may wield in spiritual battle against the enemies he has defeated on their behalf. His name puts them to flight, strikes terror into their hearts.”[2] Philippians 2, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11 ESV).

The Risen and Ascended Jesus is Lord! He is head over all things to the benefit of the church, that is, to your benefit. Jesus is working out all things to benefit you, His people! Romans 8, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Rom. 8:28 ESV). This is indeed Gospel comfort. We need not fear earthly persecutions or any other attacks by Satan and his minions. Paul continues in Romans 8, “Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:34–39 ESV).

The Ascended Jesus is your Lord and mine. This means that He is the “One who has brought us from Satan to God, from death to life, from sin to righteousness, and who preserves us in the same. . . . He became man [John 1:14], was conceived and born without sin [Hebrews 4:15], from the Holy Spirit and from the virgin Mary [Luke 1:35], so that He might overcome sin. . . . He suffered, died, and was buried so that He might make satisfaction for [us] and pay what [we] owe [1 Corinthians 15:3–4], not with silver or gold, but with His own precious blood [1 Peter 1:18–19]. And He did all this in order to become [our] Lord. He did none of these things for Himself, nor did He have any need for redemption. After that He rose again from the dead, swallowed up and devoured death [1 Corinthians 15:54], and finally ascended into heaven and assumed the government at the Father’s right hand [1 Peter 3:22]. He did these things so that the devil and all powers must be subject to Him and lie at His feet [Hebrews 10:12–13] until finally, at the Last Day, He will completely divide and separate us from the wicked world, the devil, death, [and] sin. . . [Matthew 25:31–46; 13:24–30, 47–50].[3]

Christ’s ascension is good news; it is Gospel! Jesus lives and reigns to all eternity in order to defend you and protect you. Through Baptism and Gospel Word, He sends His Holy Spirit to be with you, to teach you, and to sanctify you. As you now serve your Lord Jesus, look forward to the day when sin, death, and the devil will no longer hinder you from serving Him with complete devotion in peace and joy forever. He is the exalted Lord, for your benefit, for your blessing! Amen.

 

 

[1] Thomas M. Winger, Ephesians, Concordia Commentary (St. Louis: Concordia, 2015), 268.

[2] Ibid., 269.

[3] Paul Timothy McCain, ed., Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions (St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2005), 402.


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