|Series Theme: Meditations in Ephesians|
Meditation No. 11
Meditation Title: Power & Rule
Eph 1:19-21 That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 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.
Here we go again; note the link with what has gone before. “That power” refers to the power Paul has just said is, “for us who believe.” (v.18). Now that is vitally important to note because the power he is just about to speak about is a power which God has put in us who are Christians, who are believers. Now he goes on to let us know something more about this power: it “the working of his mighty strength,” which means God's strength. Now if he didn't say anything more that would leave us gasping because we know that our God is the One who created this world and so His power is limitless. Then we might start thinking about some of God's mighty acts in the Old Testament – the plagues he brought on Egypt , the parting the Red Sea and the Jordan river , as well as vanquishing armies. This is the power that Paul says is in us. That is difficult to take in.
But actually he defines this power by something else: “which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” The human side of Jesus was powerless to come back from the dead so it was the power of God that raised him up. Peter said the same thing when he preached on the day of Pentecost: “But God raised him from the dead” (Acts 2:24 ). Paul himself said the same thing when he wrote, “if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.” (Rom 8:11). Now Paul says this more to describe the wonder of what God did with Jesus than the impact that it had on us (at least here in this passage), but surely he has that in the back of his mind, that we today are empowered by he same power that energized Jesus. But as he finds himself referring to Jesus, it is he who catches his attention and so he moves away from what has happened to us, to what has happened to Jesus.
It is not just that God raised him from the dead but He also seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. Now at the beginning of the book of Acts we have Jesus' ascension described, a mystery but very visual. The picture of Jesus being seated at his Father's right hand in heaven is conveyed a number of times in the New Testament. The writer to the Hebrews particularly caught this when he first quotes the Old Testament: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” (Heb 1:13) and then, “We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven,” (Heb 8:1) and “when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.” (Heb 10:2) and "who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2)
But we find the same thing elsewhere in the New Testament: “Now he sits on the throne of highest honour in heaven, at God's right hand.” (Acts 2:33) and “Then God put him in the place of honour at his right hand as Prince and Saviour.” (Acts 5:31) and “Stephen…saw Jesus standing in the place of honour at God's right hand.” (Acts 7:55) and “Christ sits at God's right hand in the place of honour and power.” (Col 3:1). This is the clear message that Jesus didn't just die and didn't just rise again to die again later, he ascended to heaven again where he is seated, ruling with his Father.
But Paul doesn't want us to have any doubt about this: “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given,” i.e. he rules over everything and everyone one! There is nothing and no one who is outside Jesus' rule. Now you may not have taken this in yet, but this is one of those claims of the New Testament that elevates Jesus above any other religious figure and which makes Christianity unique among world religions. If you hear someone say, “All religions are the same,” then simply point them to all these verses (and there are more) that place Jesus as THE ruler over all things above everyone and everything and point out that no other religion makes this claim. We are dealing with THE unique Son of God here!
But Paul hasn't finished: “not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” This isn't a short term rule, this is an eternal rule. Yet there will come a time, as we've noted before when, “the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.!” (1 Cor 15:24 -26). Hence the prophetic word in the Psalms, “The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." The LORD will extend your mighty scepter from Zion ; you will rule in the midst of your enemies.” (Psa 110:1,2). Jesus rules in the midst of his enemies until he has dealt with them all – sin, fear, guilt, shame, death, Satan!
THIS is the one we are called to worship. No mere human being, but God who came in the flesh and then took it back to heaven to continue His rule. Worship Him!