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Ascension 1

My favourite depiction of ascension is THIS VIDEO from 1:55

My favourite sermon is Dev Menon's Classic:

 

Another incredible sermon by Paul Blackham

And this one by Scott Hoezee: “How We See Things–Psalm 47″

 

A Paper From Union TheologySeven Things To Like About the Ascension by Gerrit Dawson

An Ascension Song for Adults:

"He Rose Up"

(lyrics below)

He rose up among us, as told.
He rose up the Promise of old.
My Brother in strife,
Assuming my life.
Exalted, the Father’s Decree
He rose up, He rose up for me.

He rose up humanity’s Last
Man’s Answer in life unsurpassed
My Champion living,
God’s life of thanksgiving.
Exalted as I’m meant to be
He rose up, He rose up for me.

They raised Him, my Saviour, on high
Man lifted, accursed, left to die.
My Priest in atonement,
My Lamb in enthronement.
Exalted on destiny’s tree,
He rose up, He rose up for me.

He rose up from death He arose,
Immortal to crush all His foes.
The Lord of all history,
My Christ has the victory.
Exalted the darkness must flee,
He rose up, He rose up for me.

He rose up to heaven, He rose,
Ascended beyond other thrones.
My Friend in high places,
My Fountain of graces.
Exalted, my heavenly Plea,
He rose up, He rose up for me.

I rise up, I rise up in Him,
Emboldened in spite of all sin.
In Jesus attaining,
My destiny – reigning.
Exalted, with angels to sing,
I rise up, I rise up in Him.

 

Some Ascension Songs for Kids

Ascension Song for Kids    Words

.

Moving Houses - The Egypt Song

.

More of My Songs

 

 

Other Hymns:

words here

We thank Thee Jesus, Dearest Friend

 

Some Prayers...

The Collects from BCP:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

or this

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell; who liveth and reigneth with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

The South Indian Anglican Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son, our great high priest, has entered once for all into the Holy Place and ever liveth to intercede on our behalf: grant that we, sanctified by the offering of his body may draw near with full assurance of faith by the way which he has dedicated for us and evermore serve thee, the living God; through the same thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

.

1

Ascension 1

My favourite depiction of ascension is THIS VIDEO from 1:55

.

New Paper From Union Theology

Seven Things To Like About the Ascension by Gerrit Dawson

.

For Sermons...

Paul Blackham's teaching also now on the Union website

It's an annual tradition at Christ the Truth to listen to Dev Menon's Classic Sermon.

John B recommends Scott Hoezee’s sermon, “How We See Things–Psalm 47″

.

For Prayers...

The Collects from BCP:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

or this

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell; who liveth and reigneth with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

The South Indian Anglican Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son, our great high priest, has entered once for all into the Holy Place and ever liveth to intercede on our behalf: grant that we, sanctified by the offering of his body may draw near with full assurance of faith by the way which he has dedicated for us and evermore serve thee, the living God; through the same thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

.

For Songs:

words here

We thank Thee Jesus, Dearest Friend

...

And here are a couple of my own:

Ascension Song for Kids    Words

.

Moving Houses - The Egypt Song

.

"He Rose Up"

(lyrics below)

He rose up among us, as told.
He rose up the Promise of old.
My Brother in strife,
Assuming my life.
Exalted, the Father’s Decree
He rose up, He rose up for me.

He rose up humanity’s Last
Man’s Answer in life unsurpassed
My Champion living,
God’s life of thanksgiving.
Exalted as I’m meant to be
He rose up, He rose up for me.

They raised Him, my Saviour, on high
Man lifted, accursed, left to die.
My Priest in atonement,
My Lamb in enthronement.
Exalted on destiny’s tree,
He rose up, He rose up for me.

He rose up from death He arose,
Immortal to crush all His foes.
The Lord of all history,
My Christ has the victory.
Exalted the darkness must flee,
He rose up, He rose up for me.

He rose up to heaven, He rose,
Ascended beyond other thrones.
My Friend in high places,
My Fountain of graces.
Exalted, my heavenly Plea,
He rose up, He rose up for me.

I rise up, I rise up in Him,
Emboldened in spite of all sin.
In Jesus attaining,
My destiny – reigning.
Exalted, with angels to sing,
I rise up, I rise up in Him.

7

For Sermons...

It's an annual tradition at Christ the Truth to listen to Dev Menon's Classic Sermon.

[audio https://christthetruth.net/audio/AscensionSermonDevMenon.mp3]

Paul Blackham's teaching is equally fantastic

John B recommends Scott Hoezee’s sermon, “How We See Things–Psalm 47″

And an essay by Stephen T. Davis, “The Meaning of the Ascension for Christian Scholars”.

.

For Prayers...

The Collects from BCP:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

or this

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell; who liveth and reigneth with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

The South Indian Anglican Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son, our great high priest, has entered once for all into the Holy Place and ever liveth to intercede on our behalf: grant that we, sanctified by the offering of his body may draw near with full assurance of faith by the way which he has dedicated for us and evermore serve thee, the living God; through the same thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

.

For Songs:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C1mlV0HQeo"]

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8faTDmvue9M&playnext_from=QL"]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4d4UXSJXig]

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfT4nc72QIs"]

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOYUmiUvE3o"]

words here

We thank Thee Jesus, Dearest Friend

...

And here are a couple of my own:

A kids song about the ascension

A kids song about Jesus moving house (eventually to heaven)

"He Rose Up"
[audio https://christthetruth.net/audio/HeRoseUp2.mp3]

(lyrics below)

He rose up among us, as told.
He rose up the Promise of old.
My Brother in strife,
Assuming my life.
Exalted, the Father’s Decree
He rose up, He rose up for me.

He rose up humanity’s Last
Man’s Answer in life unsurpassed
My Champion living,
God’s life of thanksgiving.
Exalted as I’m meant to be
He rose up, He rose up for me.

They raised Him, my Saviour, on high
Man lifted, accursed, left to die.
My Priest in atonement,
My Lamb in enthronement.
Exalted on destiny’s tree,
He rose up, He rose up for me.

He rose up from death He arose,
Immortal to crush all His foes.
The Lord of all history,
My Christ has the victory.
Exalted the darkness must flee,
He rose up, He rose up for me.

He rose up to heaven, He rose,
Ascended beyond other thrones.
My Friend in high places,
My Fountain of graces.
Exalted, my heavenly Plea,
He rose up, He rose up for me.

I rise up, I rise up in Him,
Emboldened in spite of all sin.
In Jesus attaining,
My destiny – reigning.
Exalted, with angels to sing,
I rise up, I rise up in Him.

Outgoing – Session 8B – 27 October 2011

Michael Milmine

Audio

Text

Powerpoint


Raised - part two

The Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus

Is God like a father?  No! God is Father

.

When Christ ascends to His right hand He declares/ anoints/crowns/seats the Man Jesus. (Heb 1:5; Act 13:33)

Man is now in the presence of God.  And we are in Him!!

.

Colossians 3:1-4 – We are raised with Christ!

.

What are the benefits?

Saved from damnation

Accounted righteousness

Brought to life

Given His riches, inheritance and honour

A life of purpose...

.

But these are not the greatest benefits of the Gospel.

.

What is the greatest benefit of the Gospel?

We are given Christ Himself!

All other benefits are found in Him.


Discuss: What difference does it make to our evangelism and Christian lives that God offers us Christ, instead of abstract salvation ‘stuff’ zapped into us?



If the Gospel gives us commodities– we need to keep hold of them

If the Gospel gives us Christ – He keeps hold of us.

Therefore, we are not walking a tightrope, we are in our Head forevermore.

.

Therefore we are saved by grace alone through faith alone

The gift of God to be received.


Common Objection:  What’s to stop people doing what they want and sinning?


Recommended Reading: Hebrews 1-5

What makes Jesus a good High Priest?

What is the quality of the Christian’s relationship to God?


 

Next Week: A Priestly People

How do we live our lives in Christ?  We rely on the Priesthood of Christ.  And we are a priesthood to the world.

.


Sermon Audio

Powerpoint Slides

Today is Ascension Sunday.  It’s the Sunday after Ascension Day which is always a Thursday.

It’s the day Jesus made the ultimate journey – He journeyed from earth to heaven in order to sit down on the throne of the universe and rule the world as our Brother, our Priest, our King.  On Ascension Day Christians remember we have a Friend in very high places.

On Good Friday we remember His death on the cross.  On Easter Sunday we remember His rising from the dead.  For 40 days afterwards He appeared to His followers, He gave “convincing proofs” of His resurrection (as we learnt this morning).  He ate and drank and walked and talked with His friends and He gave us a little snapshot of what resurrection life looks like.  It’s country walks, fishing with friends, barbecues on the beach, it’s feasting and friendship and glorious joy.  But then after 40 days, Jesus ascended to heaven.  And so there’s a sense of Christ’s absence in the world now.  Jesus is not here, He is not among us, and we miss Him.  But He also promised to send us His Spirit, which is the day we celebrate next Sunday.

Because 10 days after Jesus ascended is the day of Pentecost.  On that day He sent the gift of His Spirit in a special way upon the church so that the church can be Christ’s witnesses to the ends of the earth.  That’s what we learnt this morning.

So let me tell you that story again and let me use some language that might be familiar to you from our reading.

Today we celebrate ASCENSION – the ASCENT of Jesus.  On Good Friday, He had gone down into death and curse and hell.  On that cross He was EXILED from God’s presence – He was shut out, EXILED, from the presence and blessings of His Father and He endured the curses that we deserve for our disobedience.

In other words you might say He was like the temple torn down on the cross.  He is GOD’S HOUSE – the meeting place of God and man, and as He said in John chapter 2, He would be torn down on the cross only to be raised again in three days.  So He’s like God’s house torn down and raised up.

Or you could say He’s like a Seed that goes down into the ground.  That’s what He said in John 12.  He’s the Seed who gets planted into the ground.  But on Easter Sunday He sprang up from the ground into resurrection life.  He came through the exile and curses and was RESTORED.  And there was an incredible joy at His restoration.  It’s a joy that’s meant to be carried to the whole world.  The nations are meant to look on at this restoration and praise God for it.

And then Jesus tells His disciples to stay IN Jerusalem .  Another name for Jerusalem is ZION.  But in Zion, Jesus is going to give a blessing – His Holy Spirit.  And 10 days later the promised blessing from Jesus comes on His people:  The Spirit is given to equip Christ’s disciples to witness to the nations.  In ZION, the PEACE AND BLESSINGS of the LORD come upon His people.

So that’s the Gospel story.  It’s a story of Ascension, a story of Exile, a story of about God’s House torn down and raised up, of the Seed planted and then blossoming, it’s about a joyful restoration and it’s about peace and blessings that fall down upon Zion.  Are any of those words familiar?

Well our Psalms for this evening are called “Songs of Ascent.”  That’s interesting.  On Ascension Sunday.  There are 15 “songs of ascent” in the book of Psalms and we’re covering them at Souls at Seven, three at a time.

The Psalms are SINGING ABOUT GOING UP.

People has speculated that these Psalms were sung by Old Testament believers on their way up to Jerusalem for the festivals.  They went up to Zion and they sang about GOING UP on their way.

But we too are on our way up.  We’re on our way up to the Heavenly Jerusalem, the true Zion.  As we make our journey through life, these songs will help us too.

But ultimately Jesus is the One who made the true Ascent from earth to heaven.  He made the ultimate journey through the sins and sufferings of this world and into God’s presence.  And the Jews of the Old Testament and we today look to Jesus to make sense of our experiences of going up.

So let’s dip into our three songs for tonight.  We’ll give a very quick overview and we’ll try to unpack a couple of things.

...continue reading "Sermon: Psalms 126-128"

And while He was blessing them, He left them and was carried up into heaven.  (Luke 24:51)

...And He hasn't stopped blessing us.

.

Happy Ascension Day!

For archived stuff on the ascension (including awesome sermons like Dev's!) go here. Or read Dan Hames here.

Hebrews 12:14-29 Sermon.  Audio here.  Text below.

Mountains are often thought of as spiritual.  A mountaintop experience is a spiritual experience.  People say they often feel closer to God or closer to spiritual things when they’re on a mountain.

And the bible begins in Eden which is described in Ezekiel 28 as “the holy mountain of God.”  Genesis 2 says that rivers flowed out of this mountain garden and down to the rest of the world.  So humanity began on high.  And the fall, was literally a descent down the mountain, away from God’s presence.

If anyone were to get back into God’s presence, not only would they have to get past the guardian cherubim, these angelic bouncers with their flaming swords barring the entrance.  They would have to ascend the hill of the LORD (Psalm 24).  And that’s just commonly the way the bible speaks.

The bible speaks of Jesus having descended from the heights.  And as He lived among us He lived the perfect life.  The life of other-centred love and sacrifice that you and I should live but don’t – Jesus did it.  And then He died the perfect death as our sacrifice for sins.  And then, when He arose, He ascended back into the Most Holy Place – heaven itself – and He went there as our perfect Priest.  We have a Friend in very high places.

That’s the argument Hebrews has been making for the last 12 chapters.  Jesus has come and lived our life for us.  He’s entered into the depths of our suffering and struggle and He’s lived the faithful life we never could.  But He did it FOR US.

And then He died the perfect sacrificial death on the cross.  And He did it FOR US.  You and I deserve to die in the depths because of our filth and uncleanness.  But His godforsaken death in the depths is counted before God FOR US.

And then He has ascended as the perfect Priest into heaven FOR US.  We don’t have the right to be in the holy presence of God, but He is there on our behalf.  He represents us in the highest place imaginable.

If we trust Jesus then we get joined to Jesus.  And His life is our life, His death is our death, His ascension to God is our ascension to God.

And after 12 chapters of this kind of argument, the writer says in this section: “Don’t you know where you are?  Do you have any idea where Christ has brought you?”

You are on the mountaintop.  You have reached the summit.

These verses are here to wake us up to our mountaintop experience with God.  And once we realize where we are – where Christ has brought us – then this passage will tell us how to move out into the world from these height.

That’s how we’ll study this chapter.  We’ll begin on the mountaintop.  We’ll appreciate where we are – secure on the high ground.  And then we’ll consider how we’re meant to walk out into the world

But first the mountaintop experience.

...continue reading "Feeling on top of the world? Hebrews 12:14-29"

Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the LORD.  (Ex 28:29)

We have such a High Priest, One who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, a Minister in the holy places, in the true tent that the Lord set up, not man.  (Heb 8:1-2)

It would be interesting to do a poll regarding which 'moment' of gospel activity shapes our theology/spirituality the most.  Is it incarnation, or life, or death, or resurrection, or ascension, or pentecost or return?  I know they all belong together but if I had to tick only one box I might well identify 'ascension' as the moment that most shapes my Christian outlook.  Either cross or ascension anyway.  Thankfully we don't have to choose and in Hebrews (which we're preaching through at the moment) the sacrifice and the priest are kept very much together.  But ascension is so close to my heart because it blows my mind to think of the One on the throne as my Brother!

A Man occupies the true seat of power.  Bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh rules heaven and earth.  The very One who was down here - teaching and healing, washing our feet, cleansing the temple, gathering the children, denouncing His enemies, silent on trial, dying in agony, forgiving His executors, risen with those same wounds, walking and cooking and eating and drinking with His friends and speaking of the kingdom - He's the One who is up there.  We have a Friend in High Places.  The greatest Friend in the highest place.

And if we're in Him we've arrived.  We are already safe, already secure, already sat down, already blessed in the heavenly realms, already beloved, already honoured, already in the circle of God's triune love. The Anchor of our souls is secure in the very safest place (Hebrews 6:19f).  In the meantime we'll be blown about here and there but "My Anchor holds within the veil."

Chin up - He's ascended.  And we in Him.

To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne.  (Rev 3:21)

Some Ascension Day resources here.

And here's the audio of Dev's ascension sermon.  Text below...

...continue reading "Our Friend in High Places"

Gearing up for Thursday.  Please add to this list:

For Sermons...

You can't go past Dev's classic here.

And Paul Blackham's teaching is fantastic

John recommends Scott Hoezee’s sermon, “How We See Things–Psalm 47″

And an essay by Stephen T. Davis, “The Meaning of the Ascension for Christian Scholars”.

.

For Prayers...

The Collects from BCP:

Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

or this

Grant, we beseech thee, Almighty God, that as we do believe thy only-begotten Son our Lord Jesus Christ to have ascended into heaven, so we may also in heart and mind thither ascend, and with him continually dwell; who liveth and reigneth with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

The South Indian Anglican Collect:

O God, whose blessed Son, our great high priest, has entered once for all into the Holy Place and ever liveth to intercede on our behalf: grant that we, sanctified by the offering of his body may draw near with full assurance of faith by the way which he has dedicated for us and evermore serve thee, the living God; through the same thy Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee, O Father, and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

.

For Songs:

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7C1mlV0HQeo"]

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8faTDmvue9M&playnext_from=QL"]

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfT4nc72QIs"]

[youtube="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOYUmiUvE3o"]

words here

We thank Thee Jesus, Dearest Friend

..

And here are a couple of my own:

A kids song about the ascension

A kids song about Jesus moving house (eventually to heaven)

.

"He Rose Up" (lyrics below)

He rose up among us, as told.

He rose up the Promise of old.

My Brother in strife,

Assuming my life.

Exalted, the Father’s Decree

He rose up, He rose up for me.

.

He rose up humanity’s Last

Man’s Answer in life unsurpassed

My Champion living,

God’s life of thanksgiving.

Exalted as I’m meant to be

He rose up, He rose up for me.

.

They raised Him, my Saviour, on high

Man lifted, accursed, left to die.

My Priest in atonement,

My Lamb in enthronement.

Exalted on destiny’s tree,

He rose up, He rose up for me.

.

He rose up from death He arose,

Immortal to crush all His foes.

The Lord of all history,

My Christ has the victory.

Exalted the darkness must flee,

He rose up, He rose up for me.

.

He rose up to heaven, He rose,

Ascended beyond other thrones.

My Friend in high places,

My Fountain of graces.

Exalted, my heavenly Plea,

He rose up, He rose up for me

.

I rise up, I rise up in Him,

Emboldened in spite of all sin.

In Jesus attaining,

My destiny – reigning.

Exalted, with angels to sing,

I rise up, I rise up in Him.

.

A Tale of Two Thursdays

On Thursday we sent our representative to the seat of power.  Eastbourne chose Stephen Lloyd to send him to Westminster.  He will now represent us in matters relating to parliament.   Whether you personally voted for him or not, he is our representative, he represents the whole constituency.  And we have sent him to the seat of power to appear for us before parliament.

That’s what happened last Thursday.  This coming Thursday we celebrate something that dwarfs the general election into relative insignificance.  This coming Thursday is Ascension Day.  You see after Good Friday where Christ made the one sacrifice for sins on the cross, He rose again on Easter Sunday and then appeared to hundreds of His followers over a period of 40 days.  Then, 40 days after He rose, it was Ascension Day – the day Christ ascended from among us as the King of Glory and went to the true seat of power.  He ascended to the right hand of God the Father – the throne of the universe.  And Jesus Christ – our Flesh and Bone Brother – sat down to rule heaven and earth as our representative.  We have sent our man to the seat of power to rule on our behalf.

At Christmas we sing the line “Pleased as Man with man to dwell.”  On Ascension Day we can sing “Pleased as Man for man to rule.”  He hasn’t just descended to us to become one of us.  He has ascended from us to reign for us.

Look at verse 24:

24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; He entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence.

Jesus Christ sits on the seat of power and He appears in Heaven FOR US.  Pleased as Man for man to rule.  He rules on our behalf.  And this is so much better than anything a politician could offer us.

But maybe the first question we want to ask about our representatives is this: Are you qualified to rule?  Do you know how to use power?

QUALIFIED

Our conservative MP kept telling us about his track record in parliament, he knew his way around the halls of power, you could trust him. The Liberal Democrat MP pointed to his years of successful business – he knew how to lead.  And we want that for our representatives.

Well chapter 1 of Hebrews began by telling us Christ’s qualifications.  When Christ ascended to heaven 2000 years ago He was not a new kid on the block.  No Hebrews 1:2 says He is:

heir of all things, and through Whom God made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.

Jesus is qualified to sit on the throne.  It’s where He has always belonged.

But you know, we can get turned off a politician if we think they’re just big and powerful.  We also want to know that they are one of us.

ONE OF US

During the election campaign the various candidates kept trying to tell us how Eastbournian they really were.  “Born and bred in Eastbourne” is a line that goes down well with voters.  The candidates want to be able to say: “I know all your issues, I suffer all the same trials as you do, I’m one of you.”  That’s what wins votes.  That’s what’ll get you political power.

But what about heavenly power?  Can we really believe that the One who sits on heaven’s throne is ONE OF US?  Well Ascension Day says Yes.  The book of Hebrews says Yes.  Jesus Christ, was born and bred in our constituency.  That’s what Hebrews chapter 2 was all about.  Look at Hebrews 2 and v14: “Since we have flesh and blood, He too shared in our humanity.” (v14).

Or verse 17: “He was made like His brothers in every way in order that He might become a merciful and faithful High Priest in service to God [representing us to God].”

Born and bred in our constituency.  Suffering all the same troubles that we face.  Verse 18 says “He Himself suffered when He was tempted and He’s able to help us when we’re tempted.”  The Ruler of the Universe has gone through all the trials we go through.  The One on the throne is one of us!

FOUGHT OUR BATTLES

And He’s fought all the same battles that we fight.  In the election, everyone wanted to claim that they’d saved the DGH.  You might have thought that they’d thrown themselves in front of bulldozers to save the maternity ward.  Because it was a battle that affected us all, and all the candidates wanted to be able to say, “I fought the powers that be and I won through for Eastbourne.”  That’s going to win votes.

Well Jesus Christ fought the ultimate powers that affect us.  In chapter 2 we read halfway through v14:

By His death He destroyed him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil-- 15 and freed those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.

Jesus went to the cross.  And there He fought against the powers that be – sin and death and the devil.  And He alone defeated them.  He’s not just qualified, He’s not just one of us, He’s fought our battles and won!

But more than that, He’s sympathetic to our suffering.

SYMPATHETIC TO OUR SUFFERING

When a politician says “I, like you, have suffered through the recession and I know what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet” that’s a vote-winner.  We don’t believe them, but it’s a vote winner.  And if they’ve made good through adversity we reckon that this breeds character.  And it makes them more approachable if they can sympathise with our suffering.

What about Jesus?  Heb 4:15

15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin. 16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Chapter 5 speaks more about Christ’s sufferings for us.  The One on the throne sympathizes with our suffering.  He was Himself THE Great Sufferer.  So we can go to Him.

But there’s something else I want from my representative.  I want them to be above reproach...

ABOVE REPROACH

The expenses scandal has damaged a lot of politicians from all the parties.  And I’m sure it damaged the former MP who held office here.  We want our representatives to be completely above board, to be pure and blameless.  We have a great fear that power corrupts.  And we hate to think that our politicians are corrupt.

But do we ever wonder whether heaven is corrupt?  Whether heaven rules righteously?  When things go wrong in life we’re very tempted to question whether the universe is being run fairly and above reproach.  Can we be certain that the One who sits on the throne is not just a self-interested, power-hungry bully?  Can we be sure of that?

Well yes we can.  Because of Ascension Day, we know that the One in absolute control is absolutely pure.  The One up there has been down here and He’s been completely transparent with us.  Think of the Gospels.  Even Christ’s greatest enemies couldn’t make their smear campaigns stick.  And the One thing He’s shown that He does with His power is He gives it away to protect and serve the weak.  That’s the One who sits on the throne.  He is above reproach.  Look at chapter 7 verse 26:

26 Such a high priest meets our need--one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

Jesus Christ the Son of God is qualified to rule, He’s one of us, He’s fought our battles, He sympathizes with our suffering and He’s completely above reproach.  That’s what we want in our representatives in Westminster and we probably won’t get it, let’s be honest.  But this IS what we already HAVE in heaven.  We have a Great High Priest who represents us right now as He occupies the true seat of power.

Don’t put your trust in politicians or in politics or in parties or in electoral reform.  You can pray for all of that, you’re commanded to pray for all of that, but you’re commanded to pray for all that because that’s not where the real power is.  Your real representative occupies the true seat of power.

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