Ascension of the Lord (May 25, 2017)
- First reading
- Acts 1:1-11
- Psalm 47 or Psalm 93
- Second reading
- Ephesians 1:15-23
- Luke 24:44-53
Ephesians 1:15-23 | New International Version (NIV)
15 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
Today is the fortieth day after Easter. Traditionally, we believe that this is the day that Jesus ascended back to heaven. The story is told in the first chapter of the book of Acts or Luke’s second volume. The first was the Gospel of Luke. Jesus tells the disciples to wait and pray in Jerusalem for the coming of the promised Holy Spirit – the Helper – the Comforter – the Advocate. There disciples are with Jesus on the Mount of Olives when he ascends to heaven. They stand there with their mouths open, looking into the heavens where Jesus has disappeared. Two men in white robes come along and ask, “Why are you still standing here. Go do what you have been told.” So the disciples do…and ten days later while 120 of the disciples are gathered into a guest room in Jerusalem – the Holy Spirit comes on them and the world has never been the same.
As a result, the gospel was spread throughout the known world and especially in the Roman Empire. Modern day Turkey was once a part of this ancient empire. One of those who was miraculously transformed was a man named Paul. He ended up planting churches all over the Roman Empire and especially in Asia Minor.
In our scripture today, Paul prays a prayer for the church in Ephesus, one of the churches in Asia Minor. Here is what he prays for that church and for us as well.
Paul prays that we:
- would receive the Spirit of wisdom and revelation – so that we may get to know God better.
- That our eyes of our hearts would be opened – so that we may know the hope to which we have been called.
- that we may know the riches of his glorious inheritance
- that we may know his incomparably great power
- This is the power that raised Jesus from the dead
- And seated him at God’s right hand.
- That Christ rules over everything
- Both now
- and in the coming age.
- God has place all things under his feet.
- Christ is the head of the church
- We are the fullness of his body
What a great prayer to pray for the church on this day that we remember that Christ has not only been raised from the dead, but he is now seated on the right hand of God the Father. He is in control – meaning he has ultimate authority over everything. Because He has authority, he has given his authority to the church – just as it says in Matthew 28:18-20 – to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, teaching these new disciples everything that he has commanded, and He will be with us always, even to the end of the age.“