All things under His feet

Ephesians 1:16-23  I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
“God placed all things under [Christ’s] feet.”
What does it mean to be under someone’s feet? If your child’s high school team beats their opponent by the 10-run or 10-goal slaughter rule, we might say they have been trampled underfoot.
After patiently listening to her child whine and cry for ice cream, the mother finally gives a stern “No!” We might say that she has put her foot down.
If you can remember all the way back to the beginning of the Gulf War, after the statue of Saddam Hussein was pulled to the ground, many of the Iraqis started slapping the statue with the soles of their shoes. To many people in the Middle East, the foot is the most degrading part of the body. It is the part of the body that is in constant contact with dirt, soil, or worse. The sole of the shoe is in constant contact with the foot – the most unclean part of the body. So to slap someone or something with your shoe is to say that the best of them is lower than the worst of you. The person underfoot is beneath you in every way.
St. Paul says that God “raised [Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:20-23).
At His ascension, God placed all things under Jesus’ feet. But it sure didn’t seem that way earlier. Jesus’ cute, little baby feet had nothing around them except some strips of cloth. He didn’t get to curl up His feet in a nice, hand-made cradle by His father, but He instead had to fall asleep in the cattle’s manger. Throughout His ministry, Jesus had no place to lay His head, let alone rest His weary feet. There was no one to offer to wash His dusty feet on Thursday evening of Holy Week.
Those humanly divine feet were dragged from place to place, from Gethsemane to trial to Praetorium to palace to Golgotha’s hill. They became splattered with blood pouring from His torn back. They were spattered with spittle from the soldiers as they mocked Him as king and splashed with the women’s tears along the Via Dolorosa.
Jesus’ feet were pierced with nails as the Roman soldiers fastened Him to the rough wood of the cross. Hours later, the nails were pulled from Jesus’ feet as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea took His corpse and laid it in Joseph’s tomb. They then wrapped Jesus’ feet and the rest of His body in spices and linen before they closed the tomb.
43 days before His ascension, it sure did not seem like Jesus had all things under His feet.
Even today, it may not seem like Jesus has all things under His control. Much of Fergusson and Baltimore lay in ruins. Around the world, Christians are enduring a holocaust like they never have before. In our own homes, families are torn apart by alcohol, drugs, and abuse. Unwed pregnancies are an epidemic as children are growing up without a father in their home. Some of you are suffering from sickness. Others are looking for a solution to a financial challenge. Still others are mourning the loss of a loved one.
We look around and it sure doesn’t seem like Jesus has everything under control. The devil is running rampant. The world seems to be unraveling at the seams. Our sinful nature seems to get the better of our sanctified spirit.
If we look out into the world, into our homes, and into our hearts, it seems as if the devil is winning, that Jesus has lost control.
When our hearts are trembling, when our doubts are rising, when we encounter temptations from without and endure insecurities from within, when we don’t know what tomorrow brings, we need to remember Jesus’ ascension into heaven. We need to recall the words of the Apostles’ Creed: “He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” We need to close our eyes to what we see and believe that which is unseen – that God has placed all things under Jesus’ feet.
Being under foot is a source of comfort.
When Christ ascended, He wasn’t going on vacation. It’s not like He’s up in heaven now taking a nap. No, our risen and ascended Lord Jesus Christ is busy and active right now, ruling all things for the sake of His church. This should be very encouraging and comforting to us. It tells us that we’re not on our own here in this hostile world, having to tough it out in the midst of the chaos, because the earth has some absentee landlord and therefore things are out of control. That is definitely not the case! The ascension of Christ, His being seated at God’s right hand, with all things under His feet – this assures us that we’re not on our own.
Do not think that our Lord has removed Himself from this world. He is not absent, nor is He idle. He serves as the Mediator, Intercessor, and Advocate of all His children, redirecting the Father’s eyes from our sin to His wounds. He serves us His Word, Absolution, Baptismal waters, and His Body and Blood, delivering His Gospel into our ears and mouths and upon our heads.
Having forever completed our redemption, having broken down the very gates of Hell which locked us in, Jesus sits where the enemies of the Gospel – where sin, death, the devil – all lie prostrate beneath His feet. His holy, precious blood, has paved the way for us, so that at the Resurrection, He will gather us to Himself, that we might inherit the kingdom prepared for us from the creation of the world (Matthew 25:34).
St. Paul is writing to people just like you and me. He is comforting those who fight the feelings of hopelessness. “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:18). It is as if Paul is saying, “I know that you have enemies; I know you have struggles; I know you have pain and suffering. I, myself, am in prison, but we have hope!” For us who struggle with enemies, pain and suffering, we have hope!
This hope comes from our ascended Savior: “[God] raised [Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.” God has placed all things under our Savior’s sacred feet. Our Savior sits above, over, superior to all. Christ’s enemies – our enemies – have been defeated and subdued. They lay vanquished, under the feet of our great Champion and Conqueror.
The best of them is lower than the worst of Him. To be under the foot of our ascended Savior is to be under His control. When He puts His foot down, there is no ruler or authority that can undermine His decision.
How do we know that He will use His power of having everything under His feet for our benefit?
Just take a look at these feet. These are the feet that traversed the dusty roads of Palestine, bringing blessings wherever He went. “How beautiful are the feet of who bring good news” (Romans 10:15). These are the feet of Jesus, who preached the Gospel to downtrodden sinners, who announced and brought with Him the kingdom of heaven. These are the feet at which people brought their sick and crippled, their dying and demon-possessed – and Jesus healed them. These are the feet that a woman wet with tears and wiped with her hair, feet that she kissed and anointed with oil, so grateful was she that Jesus had forgiven her sins.
These are the feet that were nailed to the cross in order win your salvation. These are the feet that carried the risen Christ to meet with Mary Magdalene, Peter, and the Emmaus disciples. These are the feet – and the hands and side – that Jesus showed to His disciples to show them that He was dead but now is alive. These are the feet that were the last things the disciples saw as Jesus ascended out of their sight.
The world’s events seem like the tale of a madman – full of rage and fury. Disasters and tragedies seem to be running amok. The Church looks like it is losing – losing respect, losing influence, losing members. And our faith may be shaken as we look at these events on the surface. We feel like we’re all on our own, having to fend for ourselves, and it’s not going well.
But in the end, who wins? Look at the leaders throughout history and tell me who ended up victorious. Herod? Caiaphas? Pilate? What about Lenin? Stalin? Osama bin Laden? How about radical Muslims who persecute Christians in Indonesia and Iran? Will any of the world rulers or terrorists win? Will the devil succeed? It may look like that at times, but no! Jesus is still in charge.
He sees those who rebel against the Anointed One. He knows those who push aside His authority. He knows when to put a stop to their shenanigans. The One enthroned in heaven laughs. The Lord scoffs at them. Then He rebukes them in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath (Psalm 2).

Jesus is still in charge. If you ever question that, just look again at Jesus’ crucified, resurrected, and ascended feet. For all things are under those divine feet. Amen. 

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