PREPARATION: lighting the candle and readying myself to listen.
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
I will always be grateful to my father for our family’s simple Christmas morning ritual. After opening all of our gifts, my dad would open his Bible and begin reading the Christmas story: “And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed” (Luke 2:1). I remember thinking that Caesar Augustus must have been a pretty important guy. He must have had a lot of power to set the whole world in motion, answering his demand for more and more taxes. My child’s heart was always glad when my dad came to big announcement about little baby Jesus: “You shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12).
No playwright or television producer could have imagined a more dramatic pairing or exciting plot than this interplay of protagonist and antagonist. Here is a tiny, helpless baby lying in a feeding trough for cattle, about to upstage the mighty Caesar. Whether living in Rome, Jerusalem or Bethlehem, when anyone thought of power, they thought of this Caesar, the ‘August One’. His very name proclaimed it, “Augustus” (the revered one), worthy of religious veneration. His official title announced it, “Imperator Caesar Divi Filius Augustus.” Roman coins and statues hailed Augustus as Soter (Savior), Divi Filius (Son of a God), and bringer of pax (peace) to the world. Caesar Augustus personifies Lord Acton’s observation about power corrupting and absolute power corrupting absolutely.
People fear power as it is held OVER them to coerce or use AGAINST them for domination and control. But how different is God’s power which He uses FOR us to empower and set us free. We see in today’s scripture God wielding boundless power to raise Jesus from the dead and seat Him “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named.” Paul notes that this is the very power of God that is “the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:19). The Omnipotent God uses His power not for Himself but FOR us who believe.
Jesus Immanuel came in the form of a servant, in the likeness of our sinful flesh so that He might die, rise, and ascend FOR us to the place of supreme power and glory. It is FOR us, not for Himself, that God acted and “put all things under his feet and made him the head over all things FOR THE CHURCH.”
Here is power unlike any power we have ever known; unlike that of any Caesar, tyrant, or dictator! Here is absolute power wielded only in humble, self-giving love. He is, after all, Immanuel FOR us!
CONVERSATION: I talk with God about the thoughts and feelings stirring within.
REST: I take time to be present to Immanuel who is present to me.