Focal Passage: Ephesians 1:7-10, 18-23
Have you ever stopped to notice that our National Anthem begins with a question? We usually do not sing it with the vocal inflection of a question. Still, the opening line asks the listener, “Oh, say can you see?”
Some of Paul’s opening words in the letter of Ephesians express his prayer that these believers “see” some things: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know …” (Ephesians 1:18 NIV). The phrase “eyes of your heart” is found only here in the Bible. It is a beautiful picture of a person’s inner self that possesses the ability to see ultimate reality. What are the desired objects you need to see?
Hope. Read Ephesians 1:18b. Often we hope for things that we can provide for ourselves. We finish school in order to get the job for which we hope. We save money in order to reach the kind of retirement we hope to enjoy. We practice our golf swing hoping we will improve our score. These are examples of “self-fulfilling hope.” But the hope Paul speaks of is only possible through what Jesus has done.
Think of the word “called” in this verse as the word “invited.” Attendance to certain events is “by invitation only.” Unless invited, you cannot be present. We have hope not because of our own merit, but because of His gracious “invitation” or “call.” Some of what we “hope for” in life is merely “wishful thinking.” But because this hope comes from the Lord, it is far more than simple optimism. It is sure and certain and absolute.
Inheritance. Read Ephesians 1:18c NIV. There are two ways to interpret this phrase, and both of them are good. This “glorious inheritance” may be a description of heaven, the “inheritance” of holy people. If so, the joy, reunion, and purity of eternity are all part of this glorious state.
Or Paul may want Christians to see themselves as the “glorious inheritance!” This phrase may say that he wants us to know how prized we are in God’s sight. Perhaps Paul is praying here that his readers see and appreciate the value that God’s grace bestows on them.
I am not certain which interpretation Paul intends in this passage. But I believe both translations are theologically true: Heaven is wonderful and God thinks we are wonderful.
Power. Read Ephesians 1:19a. The “power” is preceded with the adjective “great.” Literally the reference is to the “mega-power” that is available to all who “believe.” The verb “believe” is in the present tense, so Paul implies here that God’s mega-power is available to us right here and now.
Those sentiments are not just empty claims. Jesus’ resurrection is a clear demonstration of this power as described in Ephesians 1:19b-21, NIV.
How much power does it take for someone dead to come back to life? While I cannot give you a definite measure in units, I can say this. Resurrection power is more power than I possess. And it is more power than collectively held by all the rulers and authorities of this world. We need to see Him reigning in complete supremacy far above over all kings, rulers, royalty, presidents, prime ministers, coaches, stars, business people, and celebrities.
Having served the same congregation for almost 29 years, my church recognizes a few of my favorite statements. Some call them “Jay-isms.” One of these simply declares: “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Usually it refers to things you CANNOT know. For example, you cannot see the future. You cannot see why some things happen as they do. You cannot see all the influences upon your life’s story. But there are some things you CAN know and you CAN see if only you open your eyes to recognize them.
Occasionally a news story appears about someone who has an old relic, or an artifact, or a piece of art that he thinks has very little worth. Then he discovers this item is actually quite rare and of great value. When this occurs, the item itself does not change. But how he sees it changes dramatically.
So, like the national anthem, God is asking, “Oh, say can you see?” Can you see these treasures? Can you appreciate their value? You can if you have the right “eye.” You can if you see them through “the eyes of your heart.”
— McCluskey is pastor, North Cleveland Baptist Church, Cleveland.