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May 12, 2024

Jesus Has All Power in Heaven and Earth

Passage: Mark 16:14-20

Several years ago, I had the privilege to serve on part of a traveling vacation bible school team who helped serve our sister congregation in the San Francisco metro area. On this trip I taught a series of lessons under the theme, “all power in heaven and earth.” In this series the point is made that Jesus Christ has power over daily life, nature, disease, demons, and death itself; and all this is lumped under the theme “all power in heaven and earth.” This phrase is taken from Christ’s great commission given to His disciples before His ascension into Heaven. He says in Matthew 28, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 "teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." So, we see in connection with Jesus’ power, Jesus also commands that the Good News about Him and His entire word be preached and taught.

The other evangelists, Luke and John, have similar instructions. Luke writes, “And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. 46 Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, 47 "and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 "And you are witnesses of these things. 49 "Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high." 50 And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them.”

And John writes, “So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

What powerful directives: teaching God’s Word and forgiving the sins of others! But how is such a task supposed to be carried out? As we of the church continue the apostles’ work to further Jesus’ saving legacy amongst all people, how can we possibly go on? Remember, Jesus does not leave us alone in this endeavor. Though He ascended into Heaven and is now seated at the Father’s right hand, He is omnipresent (everywhere at once), omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing), eternal, and ever gracious and merciful towards you. He fills all in all. All power in heaven and earth is His. This is our theme today, and it will be our confidence to motivate us in carrying out the tasks of His great commission. We will focus on three areas then: I. He has all power to sustain you and your faith, II. He has all power to save others through the Gospel, and III. He has all power to get the point across.

So, studying Jesus’ saving grace and almighty power, we study our theme in the light of Mark’s great commission, the theme, “Jesus has all power in Heaven and earth.” But first we pray…


So, Jesus has all power in Heaven and earth! Remember that for our instruction here this morning, for we have been directed to preach the Gospel, that is, witness His name and what He has done for us, but how can we possibly do that? I mean just look at us! We struggle all the time! We need help, too! And that’s where we come to point I. Jesus has all power to sustain you and your faith.

Beginning with this point, we go to the beginning of Mark’s commission where we see the eleven reclining at the table to eat their meal. At this point in their lives, they were struggling. Jesus had died on the cross, this they knew, but they did not know His resurrection. They did not believe it. This was a crucial part to faith, and they did not buy it, if you will. Many had tried to share it with them! The Marys, the Emmaus disciples, so on and so forth, but the disciples did not believe those who had seen Him alive! Even when 10 out of the 11 saw Him, and they tried to convince Thomas, that one disciple who missed out, he did not believe what He could not see. This was crucial for them, for if Jesus did not rise, then all are still in their sins. What an awful matter to be unbelieving and hard hearted on!

And so, Jesus appears and very bluntly shows Thomas His hands and side. He is Risen. And though the disciples were then leaping for joy that their Master is Risen, He rebukes them for their unbelief and hardness of heart. They were jaded and lost, not believing in the resurrection, and that is a grave concern. Jesus in love sharply rebukes them for this. He needed to save them and set them apart to share His saving name with others. He has all the power to do this, and He does it out of love.

And so, does Jesus do this for us also? Yes. He applies His loving rebuke and then convinces your heart as well. Remember, He says, “blessed are they that have not seen and yet have believed.” And that describes you, the one who is sitting here 2000 years after Jesus rose and ascended. We are truly blessed, but also, are we really that much better than the disciples? What matters in life have we been unbelieving and hard hearted on?  Do you struggle in wondering how God could be working in such a messed-up world? Do you struggle in seeing the practicality of God’s saving word to your life, seeing faith as a separate thing from your work and chore life? Even worse, do you struggle to see how Jesus rising from the dead and ascending into heaven impacts you right now in your current stations in life? What’s the point, you might wonder? Well, we are often rebuked for having little faith as well.

But take heart! Like the man who shouted towards Jesus in desperation because of his demon-possessed son, “Lord, I believe, help with my unbelief,” let us shout to Jesus too, for we know that He has all power in heaven and earth to sustain you and your beliefs! Jesus does so by reminding you in His saving word day after day what His resurrection means. In a messed up world where we seem to be alone, Jesus died, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven to show you that His love has taken you out of true despair and loneliness—saving you from an eternity in hell—and also promises to be with you always in this dark world, a world which He has overcome. He died, rose again, and ascended all to give your lives the most important meaning: you too will rise to Heaven one day. Your lives have been set apart then in holiness, growing in faith and waiting for your hope and joy in Heaven. Your faith life in Jesus is a distinct part of all aspects of your life, labor or leisure, family or friends, vacation or vocation, for He calls us to preach and share and live as ambassadors of His Wondrous Name. And finally, Jesus’ resurrection and ascension do impact your life. They give it the greatest meaning, for your life is no longer utterly doomed and worthless, but rather redeemed into God’s special care. He took your sins away! He sealed to you the promise of eternal life! He promises you that He is with you. Jesus has all power then to save you and sustain you in your faith.


Now, with this precious message in mind and what it has done for us, Jesus also directs us to share it with others so that they may benefit from it as well. For remember, Jesus has all power in heaven and earth to save through the Gospel just like He did with you. So then, to demonstrate this point that the message we are told to share is the message that can save others, let’s go back to the Markan great commission again. Jesus tells His disciples, “"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 "He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” He now gives them their mission. They are to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. Of course, this command is not possible on the part of the apostles alone. This is a command given to all Christ’s church. The apostles get the ball rolling. They are to preach the gospel to every creature. This command Jesus makes very wide to show the apostles the scope of their mission. Every creature, of course, that has an immortal soul and can believe in Christ Jesus as their Savior are the objects of such preaching and teaching. And how did the apostles get this started? Sure, the apostles perhaps didn’t make it into northern Europe, China/Japan, Sub-Saharan Africa, North/South America, but they got the ball rolling. And what was that “ball” that they got rolling? It was the Gospel of Jesus. Jesus describes the parameters of this Gospel and the difference between those who believe it and those who don’t. He who believes, that is has faith in Jesus as their Savior and thus has all the blessings of Jesus as their own, and is baptized, that is objectively having the forgiveness of sins sealed to them in the name of Jesus who washes them away through water and the word; this one will be saved. If one does not believe, they are condemned. To put it more vividly, if one believes, then hell is closed, Heaven is open, all sin and the law is annulled, and they shall receive all manner of blessing from God. If one doesn’t believe, hell is open, Heaven is closed, sin still dominates, the Law is horrendously burdensome, and the devil rules. These are the great parameters of Jesus’ assignment to His church, and the Gospel is the power that Jesus has that will accomplish the closing of hell and the opening of heaven.

Now, after 2000 years, does this assignment still apply? Most certainly! The same parameters apply: all creation. Like I said before, the apostles couldn’t cover it all, but their followers kept it going. Northern Europe was most certainly reached as evidenced by all of us here today, us who are ancestors of those early converts. Asia has been reached and is still being reached. Africa has been reached as we saw back in December with the mission presentation. The Americas have been reached. Praise be to God for the spreading of His saving Gospel!

Yet even though what I am describing is larger scale mission work to evangelize the unbeliever, this is not the only scope of Jesus’ directive. As much as the Philippines, India, and Africa count; Aberdeen counts, Ipswich counts, and Bowdle counts. No matter where you live, it counts. That is all creation.

Also, the Gospel doesn’t stop being preached to someone after they start believing. Faith needs to be maintained. All believers need God’s Word, too. Share the Gospel to bolster them as well as sharing it with those who don’t believe.

So, yes, the parameters haven’t changed, and neither has Jesus’ power either, that power being the saving Gospel. Yes, those who don’t believe today are just as condemned as those of Jesus’ day, and the Gospel is still that saving power that Jesus gives in all heaven and earth. It is the power that through Word and sacrament provide for us Christ’s saving grace. In this grace we share with others the message that Jesus died to take away sin, rose again to seal our convictions in the Father’s love, and ascended into Heaven to send down gifts to us. This Gospel message is Jesus’ power then to close hell and open heaven for others, the power to annul sin and take away fear of the law, and the power to bring to faith in the loving Father and Savior, and to trust in certain blessing from our God.


And so, seeing Jesus’ power to sustain you and His power in His Word of Gospel, what about the power to get the point across. We still need to communicate the Gospel to others. To this effect, in the early days of Pentecost, all sorts of gifts were given to the early believers: casting out demons, speaking in tongues unknown to the apostles, picking up venomous serpents, drinking poison to have it not affect them, and healing the feeble. And if you read the book of Acts, you will see several demonstrations of this very detail of Christ’s promise. By His power He granted them these powers to get assist in communication.

But you may be wondering, “why don’t these happen today?” To answer this question a few different ways, first I paraphrase the wisdom of Luther, “If God thinks they are needed to further the Gospel, then He will gift its use. If He doesn’t think it is needed, then he won’t.” These signs might be uniquely amazing, but what is it that converts and saves? It is the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus. These powers of early times served their purpose, but they weren’t the main point.

Also, to see that we aren’t at a disadvantage in our mission efforts because we can’t do these miracles, remember Paul cast a demon out of a slave girl, and he was ran out of town rather than praised because he ruined a crooked man’s business. Paul and Barnabas were wrongly worshipped as Zeus and Hermes instead of the one true God receiving the recognition behind the miracles. Paul was again called a god when surviving the snake bite rather than the Lord being praised for the miracle. And finally, the tongues spoken in Paul’s day meant nothing if no one understood them. If there was no word of God, then what good is the miracle?

Another point to this, notice how our text says “sign” and not miracles. Sign is a broader term, and there are many signs still today. A sign of the church going strong, and perhaps an even greater miracle, is that the Word of God still exists today after thousands of years. Believers still existing today is another great sign and miracle.

The miraculous works of Acts served their purpose in a fledgling church among a heathen world, but these are not really the gifts Jesus sends down today. But does this mean that Jesus doesn’t send His gracious power down to us today? Certainly not! Jesus sends down His gifts of communication still today. He sends down the gifts of well-put speaking, the gifts of bravery, the gifts of teaching, the gifts of empathy, the gifts of charity, the gifts of access, the gifts of common ground, the gifts of time and talent, the list goes on. Jesus rose to His Father’s right hand to send down gifts to you from His almighty power to keep His witness going into all creation.


And so, Jesus has all power in Heaven and earth: to sustain you and your faith in His grace, to convert and save others in His Gospel, and to get the point across in communicating from Christian hearer to listener. And like it was when Jesus gave the apostles their assignment and ascended into Heaven, finishing His work on earth, and all that was left to do was tell people about it, that is all that is left still today. Preach His name. All that is left is preaching. Jesus now is in Heaven at His Father’s right hand. Our brother, Jesus Christ, is now at God’s right hand. He intercedes for us and gives us every blessing we need. He went up to send gifts down to us. He has all power to sustain you, save and sustain all around you through His word, and all power to get the point across. Amen.