Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
Ephesians 4:7-16 pictures Christ's resurrection and ascension in two ways which tempt us to think contradict one another. In verse six we receive grace as a gift of God. In verse seven, Christ is pictured as the victorious general who has taken an army captive. how can we reconcile these two pictures?
First, the military picture. We easily recognize that Jesus, in his resurrection, was victorious over death, the age-old enemy of humanity. Jesus conquered death. What kind of captives would hetake?
Certainly the forces of death would not be the living, but the dead. Either they are dead in spirit or in body, or both. However, captives are not taken from amongthe dead, but the living. When Jesus (or anyone) takes prisoners, they are alive. How would Jesus do this?
Actually, we have no idea how he did it, except by our confession that he is stronger than death. But he did it, though we can't imagine how. By his resurrection, he captured the forces of death. In liberating them, he makes them alive.
This is the gift of God's grace. In place of the death we deserve, he gives us life. His victory over us, when we were dead in sin, leads to our life. This, too, is a gift of God. Jesus brings life.
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