and begun to reign.
15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may perceive what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.
20 God put this power to work in Christ when 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 age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Reign of Christ / Christ the King
A king like other nations have! I Samuel 8:4-22
But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, "No! We are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles." 1 Samuel 8:19-20
As Pastor James Howell describes it, Christ's reign is only powerful by its lack of power, its gentle compassion, its subversive humility. His palace is a lowly manger, his crown one of thorns, his retinue a bunch of clueless dudes fleeing for the exits, his armies the poor and pitiful of the world.
Every year the church's year of grace concludes by celebrating Jesus Christ as Lord of all. Pope Pius XI instituted the Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe in 1925.
This King reigns from a cross:
"And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself." He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. John 12:32-33
Reign of Christ 2023
Martin Luther reminds us if we want to see God's power, sovereignty, and lordship, look to the Bethlehem manger. Look to the Calvary cross. This Jesus, this Christ, rules against all ordinary human ideas of power, glory, fame. Unlike other gods of the ancient near east, Jesus reveals a god not of a particular people and place, but a God for all people and all places. Jesus' authority and reign is one of servanthood.
My July 2022 reflection Colossians 1:15-20 for Pentecost 6 fits today well. The pre-existent Christ fills and rules the entire cosmos, subverts empire, inverts the political, social, economic, and religious status quo.
Today's Second Reading
Jesus Christ's ascension refers to his reign, rule, sovereignty, power, authority, stewardship—his caretaking and responsiveness to creation's needs. Does Christ the King /Reign of Christ sound and look something like Ascension? Today's Ephesians passage is the second reading for Ascension Day / Sunday in all three lectionary years; it's also sometimes scheduled on All Saints.
"Seated at God's right hand," [1:20] is a way of saying Jesus ascended, or assumed authority over all creation. Unlike with human governments and organizations, Jesus' authority has no checks and balances. It is supreme. It is absolute. Jesus is "King of all the earth," as Psalm 47 says.
These verses from Ephesians provide three poignant (body part!) images of Jesus' ascendancy, lordship, leadership, rule:
• 1:20 – seated at God's right hand
• 1:22a – all things under his feet
• 1:22b – made him the head over all things for the church…
…1:23 which is Christ's body!
The Church…which is Christ's Body
As Luke reports in Acts 1:6-11.
So when they had come together, they asked him, "Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?" He replied, "It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:6-8
When the disciples ask the risen Christ if now he finally would "restore the kingdom to Israel," Jesus replies, "the question is wrong," and tells them to wait. They will receive power (that's the dynamite word), and then they'll be his witnesses everywhere. In other words, in the power of the pentecostal Spirit of Resurrection, Jesus' disciples (that's us!) will continue restoring the reign of heaven on earth.
The Heidelberg Catechism asks,
"Why is the son of God called Jesus, meaning Savior?" And, "Why is the son of God called Christ, meaning anointed?"
And then: "But why are you called a Christian?"
Answer: "Because by faith I share in Christ's anointing, and I am anointed to reign over all creation for all eternity."
Jesus' Presence and Reign
You may have heard about reformers Martin Luther and Ulrich Zwingli in their encounter at Marburg. Arguing the eucharistic real presence, Zwingli claimed the real or authentic presence (Geneva Reformer John Calvin preferred "true presence") of the risen Christ in the Lord's Supper wasn't possible, because the ascended Jesus Christ sits (is incumbent, rules from) at the right hand of God the Father.
Though along with Zwingli he acknowledged Christ's ascension to God's right hand, in response to Zwingli Luther pointed out the Right Hand of God – God's sovereignty and dominion – is everywhere and throughout: in, with, and under all creation. Thus the right hand of God to where Jesus Christ ascended and from where he now reigns is in Zurich, in London, at Marburg, in Los Angeles, in Tokyo, in Sydney—all places at all times. And, of course in Holy Communion.
So that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may perceive what is the hope to which Christ has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. Ephesians 1:18-19
Open the eyes of my heart, Lord
Open the eyes of my heart
I want to see you
To see you high and lifted up
Shining in the light of your glory
Pour out your power and love
As we sing holy holy holy
© Paul Baloche – Integrity Hosanna! Music, 1997