The Kingship of Christ
In this sermon Jane Williams talks from Ephesians 1:15-23 on the subject of Advent and Expectancy.
The following notes are taken by the Bible Reflections team. Please do leave a comment below.
Paul is praying for a small group of Christians and is telling them that they are at the centre of God's plans. That it is they that know the fulness of God's power.
Jane Williams asks the question "why do we celebrate the Kingship of Christ". She says that at Christmas and Advent we are proclaiming that the Kingship of Christ has come and will come again. It is at this time that we remind ourselves that we are to recognise the signs of the new Kingdom and what our King looks like and what His Kingdom is for. We are watching for the signs of the Kingdom of God.
The gospels tell us that the King who dates the world arrives as a baby, a child. Most people did not recognise the significance of the birth of Jesus.
Jesus is born into the centre of the Roman Empire, a harsh and strong empire, an empire that has dictated, by the order of a census, where Jesus was to be born.
When the first Christians are saying "Jesus is Lord" they are saying something very subversive to the society that they live in, they are committing treason.
Jesus is the one around whom everything rotates. Luke's gospel points out that although it appeared on the surface that the place of Jesus' birth was dictated by the emperor, it was in fact exactly as God, spoken through the prophets, intended it to be. The emperor 's power was simply window-dressing. The true power came in the form of a baby.
"What are the Caesars of our day?" Who think they are the ones who make the decisions, or who are in control. And how will they hear the line "Jesus is Lord?" Sometimes, we take control, we make decisions. To say to the world "Christ is King is to say something that is very subversive. All powers in our life take their authority from Christ.
Christ is always King and we must always recognise it.
It is also a liberating thing to say "Christ is King" because we are saying that it is only Jesus that is our master, and Jesus brings freedom, he is not demanding or brutal. When we go to people and offer them Christ as King, we are offering people freedom. The last few verses of Ephesians chapter one say Christ is above all powers. We are free people because we only serve Christ the King.
The kind of power that thinks it runs the world is a familiar one in our lives. And it is a power, that, if we are honest could very easily be evident in our own lives. We must use the power of Christ and His liberty.
Ephesians 1:17 says that Paul prays that the people may have the eyes of their hearts enlightened. If they are not enlightened it is very hard to recognise the riches of Christ and the hope that He brings.
In Matthew's gospel we read about the wise men who come looking for a king, a king who is important enough to have his own star. They bring gifts and we must wonder what they were hoping for in return? But because they thought it was a very important king they were looking for, they make the mistake of looking for the king in Herod's palace. What a very natural mistake and misunderstanding to make. However, the chain of events that follow (the slaughter of innocent children, the need to run away to Egypt) cause several more mistakes to happen.
When the wise men finally make it to the 'right' place, and when they see this baby who has none of the trappings of power, the wise men do recognise him, and they fall down and they worship and they leave their gifts and go home with nothing tangible in return. But what they do leave with is the eyes of the hearts enlightened. It was not what they were expecting. They knew enough about power to read some of the signs, but they still had to be taught to recognise that the baby was the one to change the world. No matter how clever these men were they still had to have their eyes open. And the only way in which we can have the eyes of our hearts open is to look at Jesus.
Not all power is bad, but all power must be measured against the power of God.
This is a good time to train ourselves to recognise the Kingship of Christ. Not just to look up and see the star, but to look up and follow where the star is actually leading us - to Christ. But this is a daily discipline. Every decision we make, we must look to Jesus, every relationship we enter into, we must look to Jesus. We are trying to make it more and more visible to people that we are recognising that Christ is King.
There is only one power - the power of God. Every other power is measured against His power.
The power that we can see in Jesus is to be trusted. But this is counterintuitive.
The power of God has practical implications. When we ask Christ to rule over everything that enslaves us and our world, we find freedom. When we know that Christ is King we know our worth.
We carry the power of the God who made the world everywhere that we go, into every situation and every relationship. We are bearers of this power and the most powerful weapon of this power is the love of God.
When we know our place under the rule of Christ we know our worth and the worth of others.