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Ephesians 1:15-23

Ephesians 1:15-23 While the disciples did not always do it well, it is much easier to imagine following Jesus when he on earth walking the dusty streets of Israel. One – you, I, Peter – would simply follow Jesus where he is going. Off to Capernaum? Follow Jesus.Off to Nazareth? Follow Jesus.Off to the Sea of Galilee? Follow Jesus.Off to Jerusalem? Follow Jesus.Walking on water? Follow Jesus. The pastoral problem that early followers of Christ inherited after the ascension of Christ back to the Father was this: what does following look like when there is no longer a person to follow around? For just such a quandary of early Christians – and Christians today, as well – the author of Ephesians (likely using Paul’s name pseudonymously) offers us some incredible gifts: wisdom and revelation (1:17) so that we might know God, enlightened eyes of your heart (1:18) so that you may know the hope to which God called you better (1:18), the riches if his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power (1:19) that is like the working of his might strength. These are the sorts of tools that one who cannot literally follow Jesus around the streets of Israel may find useful in order to be a follower of Jesus. This is great news, but the author does not stop there! Instead, the author roots this power that we are offered as the people of God in the very power that resurrected Jesus and ascended him to his throne! Further, the text makes clear that it is God whose power raised Jesus from the dead and ascended him to new life (1:20). The language is very important: it is not the dead Jesus who wills himself to new life. It is the power of God that raised that which was dead to back to life as a testament to the faithfulness of Christ – a faithfulness that followed God’s will even to death. The reward of the resurrected is continued in ascension – returned to the a faithfulness throne that was absconded on our behalf! God restores the faithful! As the text comes to its conclusion, the church is named as THE body of Christ. At this point we must recognize that if the body of Christ was resurrected and ascended because of its faithfulness, and now Jesus watches over and empowers the church, which is now the body of Christ for the world, we are given access to the power of God that resurrects and ascends. As such, it is not solely Jesus’ ascension that we celebrate today, but it is also the hope of the church’s resurrection and ascension. We talk a lot about the resurrection in the Christian Church these days – there is an entire liturgical season around Easter and an opportunity to look to the resurrection of dead at every death of a faithful sister or brother – but we focus much less stringently on the ascension. But, it seems in this text that it is the ascension that allows Christ to receive his appointment as head over the church, reminding us that the power of God that raised him to new life and appointed him heir to the throne is the same power that is afforded us to follow him today, in the world we live in. Even in a world rife with challenges including who belongs in which bathroom, which politician to vote for, is socialism or capitalism more ethical, etc. This likely means that the church needs to look beyond the petty discussions and arguments that it gets so bogged down in. If this power of God that can bring life to dead bodies and raise bodies to glorious, heavenly thrones, perhaps we need to learn to trust this God for the wisdom, revelation, enlightenedness, and hope that the text begins by promising. In the Wesleyan tradition, we are equipped with the ability to appeal to tradition, reason, and experience as hermeneutical tools along with our reading of scripture. In a difficult world to navigate, especially as we cannot simple follow Jesus