Tuesday, April 3, 2012

It's Not Foolish to Follow Jesus

Part 10 of a series through the New Testament book of Ephesians

You can listen to this sermon here.

"According to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and 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, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all" (1:19b-23).

Are We Fools? 

[This sermon was preached on April Fool's Day, which was also Palm Sunday.]

Today is April Fool’s Day. The Museum of Hoaxes (museumofhoaxes.com) has a list of the Top 100 April Fool’s Day Hoaxes of All Time. Here are a few: flying penguins (2008), the left-handed Whopper (1998), instant color TV (1962), Sidd Finch (1985), the Taco Liberty Bell (1996), and the Swiss spaghetti harvest (1957).

It’s been said that April Fool’s Day is the atheists’ holiday: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). But others would say that Christians are the gullible fools for putting their faith in Jesus. 

Today is also Palm Sunday. The enemies of Jesus thought the people in Jerusalem were fools for shouting, “Hosanna.”

Jesus Is No Joke

Why is it not foolish to follow Jesus? If what Paul says about Jesus in 1:19b-23 is true, it would be foolish not to follow Jesus. In vv. 18-19a, Paul writes that he prays that the Ephesians “know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.” Then he goes on to say more about God’s power. The same power that worked in the life of Jesus works in our lives today (“according to the working of his great power that he worked in Christ”). As God’s plan for Jesus succeeded, his plan for us will also succeed.

1. Jesus is the risen Savior. 

The Father “raised [Christ] from the dead” (v. 20). Before his crucifixion, Jesus predicted his resurrection. He said, “The Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise again” (Mark 10:33-34). Jesus was the first person who was raised from the dead and never died again (unlike Lazarus who later died a second time). Because of the death and resurrection of Jesus, there is salvation and hope. He “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).

2. Jesus is the exalted Lord. 

The Father “seated [Christ] at his right hand in the heavenly places” (v. 20). When Paul wrote these words, he was probably thinking of Psalm 110:1, which says, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.’” Concerning this verse, Jesus asked the Pharisees, “If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son” (Matt. 22:44; cf. Mark 12:36; Luke 20:42). Jesus was showing them that the Messiah (the Son of David) would be greater than David. He would not merely be a great man; he would be the God-man.

Christ is now “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” (v. 21). These powers probably refer to both human and angelic powers. Paul refers to evil angelic powers in 6:12: “We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12). The “heavenly places” is the unseen world.

These powers are no match for Christ. “Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them [he put them to shame], triumphing over them by the cross” (Col. 2:15, NIV). And since believers are in Christ, these powers cannot defeat us. Paul asks in Romans 8:33, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect?” (Rom. 8:33). He goes on to day, “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” (vv. 38-39).

3. Jesus is the sovereign King. 

The Father “put all things under [Christ’s] feet” (v. 22a). This statement goes back to Psalm 8:6: “You have put all things under his feet.” Psalm 8 refers to “the son of man” (v. 4). When man was created, God gave him dominion over creation (Gen. 1:28). Jesus is the ultimate Son of Man (cf. Heb. 2:5-9). (He often called himself the “Son of Man.”) The prophet Daniel was given a vision in which he saw “one like a son of man” (Dan. 7:13). “To him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom on that shall not be destroyed” (v. 14).

Jesus is now King over his church. The Father “gave [Christ] as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (vv. 22b-23). The “church” refers to the universal church (every true Christian everywhere).

We're Not Fools!

We are not fools for following Jesus. He is the risen Savior, the exalted Lord, and the sovereign King. In the end, it will be shown that it was foolish not to follow Jesus.

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