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?
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…
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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