Head of the Church. God “gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all”, Eph. 1. 22, 23. The Headship of Christ is a fascinating and little touched subject of New Testament teaching. Thus Headship relates to mankind, 1 Cor. 11. 3, to the terrestrial and celestial power, Col. 2. 10, and the Church, Eph. 1. 22; 4. 15; 5. 23; Col. 1. 18; 2. 19, and it is this last with which we are now concerned. This is the unique contribution of the Ephesian and Colossian Epistles. Ephesians 1. 22 teaches His supremacy - “all things in subjection under his feet”, R.v. Colossians 1. 17-18 expresses His pre-eminence and supremacy as being “before all things”. In Ephesians 5. 22-24 it is His authority that is presented - “the church is subject unto Christ”. In Ephesians 4. 15 and Colossians 2. 19 it is the entire and absolute dependence of the Body upon Him as its Head that is emphasized. The practical significance of all this for the Christian is twofold:
(i) His Supremacy, Pre-eminence, Authority. Christ is the only Head, and Lord of the Church, the One to whom she must render her complete obedience and submission. He it is who “gave some, apostles; and some, prophets …" for the perfecting of the saints, Eph. 4. 7-16. Do we give practical demonstration of the Headship of Christ in the local assembly? Is it in very truth the Lord’s assembly or do we make it in a wrong sense our assembly, and usurp His supremacy for ourselves, like some modern Diotrephes? Young people, and older ones too, are you using the gifts given you by the ascended Lord for the promotion of His glory, and the perfection of God’s saints?, Eph. 4. 8-12. Elders, are you tending the flock of God over which He has made you overseers until the Chief Shepherd comes?, Acts 20. 28-31; 1 Pet. 5. 1-4. At the coming of the Lord Jesus each will give account of his stewardship, and the practical recognition of the Headship and Lordship of Christ demands that we be faithful in the discharge of the tasks allotted to us.
(ii) Absolute Dependence of the Body. Our Lord is Head of the Church, and He is the only source of her life and testimony. It is true of the Church and the individual Christian., that we are what we are only in proportion to our relationship with the ascended Lord Jesus Christ. He is the sustainer, and our dependence on Him will make us fruitful. So the Lord in John 15 spoke of His Father’s desire for fruitbearing lives. This fruit is later defined as “of the spirit”, Gal. 5. 22, “of the light”, Eph. 5. 9 R.v., and “of righteousness”, Phil. 1. 11. In John 15 the Lord told His disciples that the secret of fruitfulness is the measure of their communion with Himself-"without me ye can do nothing”; see also Psalm 1. From the risen, exalted and glorified Head of the Church we receive our orders, and our supplies. We are to be faithful, and fruitful.
His Present Ministry. God hath highly exalted Him, and “at the right hand of God … (Christ Jesus).. . maketh intercession for us”, Rom. 8. 34 R.v. He appears “before the face of God for us”, Heb. 9. 24 r.v. The special thought here is that the Lord Jesus in His ascension fulfilled the ritual of the great day of atonement; see Lev. 16; Heb. 9. 1-10, 18. The high priest of Israel on that great day did not wear the garments of glory and beauty, which were typical of his being God’s representative to the people, but the white linen garments, signifying that he was the representative of the people before God. The presence of the Lord Jesus in heaven is the fulfilment of that part of the type of the day of atonement.
It is not given to us to know how our Lord ministers in the heavenly sanctuary. The stress is always on the fact that He is there, interceding, appearing. Yet we are permitted to have some idea of the things that now burden His heart for His people. “I pray for them … for them which thou hast given me: for they are thine … keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one … that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves … that thou shouldest keep them from the evil … sanctify them through thy truth …”, John 17.
If we are conscious of “the sufferings of this present time”, of our “infirmities”, “temptations" and of our sin, we shall find in His present ministry strength enough; see Rom. 8. i8ff; Heb. 2. 18; 4. 14, 15; 1 John 2. 1.
This Same Jesus … Shallso Come. It is from heaven, where He now is, that the Lord Jesus will return to this earth, Phil. 3. 20; 2 Thess. 1. 7. It will be a glorious appearing, Tit. 2. 13, the revealing of His glory, 1 Pet. 4. 13. And it is our privilege “to serve the living and true God; and to wait for his Son from heaven … even Jesus”, 1 Thess. 1. 9-10; cf. 4. 16. Serving and waiting go properly together in the Christian life, and the Lord Jesus still expects us to occupy till He come, Luke 19. 13. May the Lord Himself direct our hearts “into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ”, 2 Thess. 3. 5, that we may look always for “the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a people for his own possession, zealous of good works”, Tit. 2. 13,14 R.v.