Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Christ in Control (Ephesians 1:22-23)

“and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22b–23, NASB95)

In the first part of verse 22 we read that the Father gave all things to the Son to be subject to Him, and here in the later part of the verse and verse 23 Paul makes this even more specific as he pointed to the fact that Jesus Christ has been made the head of the church. I started this post a couple of times, and have worked through a number of things as it pertains to Christ and what it means for Him to be the head over the church. I’ve thought about the events of last week when Christians were killed as they professed their faith. I thought about some churches I am aware of who are working through the process of trying to find that next person who God has as their senior pastor or who might be struggling over some issue. And I thought about my own search for a position and the struggles that come in the waiting. Every single one of these issues has unanswered questions surrounding them that might cause the questions to come up in our hearts, “Where is God? What is He doing?”

Then this morning I went to an elder meeting where the elder bringing the devotional led us to the first five verses of Psalm 22. Following the meeting I spent some time by myself reflecting on the discussion and looking at those verses in relation to the questions above and some others with which I am wrestling. Then I thought again about this passage ending Ephesians chapter 1 which I had not dealt with yet, asking, “What does Psalm 22 and Christ being the head of the church have to do with all of these issues, and how should that change how I walk before Him in the waiting?”

First, looking to Psalm 22:1-5 we read, "(1) My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. (2) O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; and by night, but I have no rest. (3) Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. (4) In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered them. (5) To You they cried out and were delivered; in You they trusted and were not disappointed.” (Psalm 22:1–5, NASB95)

You might recognize the first words of this psalm, and probably not as much from knowing the psalm but knowing that these were the words used by our Lord, Jesus Christ on the cross. In Mark we read, “When the sixth hour came, darkness fell over the whole land until the ninth hour. At the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”” … “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last.” (Mark 15:37, NASB95) It was these words of King David written so many hundreds of years in advance that Jesus cied out as the Son of God to His Father as He breathed His last on the cross. While we can only try to imagine the intensity of what He was feeling and the depth of the truth that He knew as He took on Himself the sins of man, we do know from Scripture that Jesus felt incredible anguish at that time, and in that anguish we hear the cry of what we might see as abandonment or being truly alone. Our Lord felt these things for us. He understands our incredible desire at times to be rescued. He understands our questions that arise when things seem out of control and don’t make sense.

Being God, we read, that He willingly humbled Himself to take on the form of man to become sin for us. He took the full punishment of a Holy God in order to impart to us His own holiness and to make us righteous with His perfect righteousness. If there ever was an unjust murder, this is it. Christ, who knew no sin became sin for us. He was beaten and despised by men so that we might become fully accepted by the Father. And in this He knew the great pain of being separated and alone for that excruciating moment on the cross when He refused to deny His identity and died for us.

This would have been horribly tragic if it ended there, but we know from Scripture that after Jesus was buried that He also rose again on the third day. He took His life back up again and returned to the right hand of the Father. It is here that we read in Ephesians that He was given by the Father to be, “head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:22b-23)

Returning to my reflections on Psalm 22 from the discussion earlier in the morning, I remembered that David went on in verse 2, after expressing these incredible words of feeling abandoned, to speak of how he had cried out throughout the day (and I would imagine many days) without getting an answer from God, and how even at night he was so stirred up that he found no rest. He cried out again and again and he didn’t get the relief he had been seeking. In the New King James we read, “O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear….” David brought his plight before God and plead for His help, yet he (at that time) did not hear anything from Him or see any reasonable resolution. The situation seemed to have been severe and his need seemed to be great, but he didn’t get an answer. It must have been so easy to wonder if God even heard him, yet in his mind we know from his writings that David knew that God surely did. With Jesus and with David these words represent a time when things were at their most intent, and David tells us that over this he groaned (verse 1) and was forced to wait.

This would seem quite hopeless but for what follows in verses 3-5 where we read, “Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. In You our fathers trusted; they trusted and You delivered them. To You they cried out and were delivered; in You they trusted and were not disappointed.” David knew that God had not gone anywhere, that He was still on His throne, and that He was good and right and holy. He thought about how his fathers had trusted Him, and how God had delivered them. They had cried out to God and He delivered them, and in that they were not let down. David’s heart began to turn from his feelings of distress to his knowledge and trust in his faithful and loving God. He looked to what God had said He would do and then how He had done so, and David found comfort.

But even in his comfort he began to look turn inward to himself, and in verse 6 we read that he called himself a “worm and not a man.” Then as he worked through this he turned his eyes back toward God leading to the words found in verse 9, “Yet You are He who brought me forth from the womb; You made me trust when upon my mother’s breasts. Upon You I was cast from birth; You have been my God from my mother’s womb.” David was reminded of the training of his mother and how God had brought him forward through her to know Him. David had never known anyone else. Though he was indeed weary and worn from the trouble surrounding him and he had little strength left in him, he also continued to cry out with hope to God for his strength and deliverance.

Later in verses 25-28 we read, “From You comes my praise in the great assembly; I shall pay my vows before those who fear Him. The afflicted will eat and be satisfied; those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever! All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations will worship before You. For the kingdom is the Lord’s and He rules over the nations.” (Psalm 22:25–28, NASB95)

David knew great hope because even in the darkest times He knew He could trust His great God and Lord who rules over all the nations. I love the words of verse 26, “Those who seek Him will praise the Lord. Let your heart live forever!” Jesus is our Lord. He has been given charge of His church, and we read that He is fully vested in us as His people and His church as He fills us with His Spirit. In Him we trust and our hearts are strengthened.

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