Captivity Captive

We are captive to Jesus - hallelujah!

O helper of workers,
ruler of all the good,
guard on the ramparts
and defender of the faithful,
who lift up the lowly
and crush the proud,
ruler of the faithful...
I beg that me, a little man
trembling and most wretched,
rowing through the infinite storm
of this age,
Christ may draw after Him to the lofty
most beautiful haven of life...

  - Anonymous, Adiutor Laborantium, Irish, 6th century[1]

Therefore He says:
“When He ascended on high,
He led captivity captive,
And gave gifts to men.”

  - Ephesians 4.8

The ascension of Jesus, and His current reign at the right hand of God, are not well understood or appreciated by our generation of Christians. These aspects of the work of Christ are crucial to a full and complete understanding of what it means to be followers of Christ and citizens of His Kingdom. Yet we seldom think about them; and we know very little about their implications for our lives.

When Jesus ascended to heaven, He “took captivity captive.” That is, all those, chosen in Christ before the foundations of the world (Eph. 1.4), who were captive to sin, self-interest, Satan, and the fear of death, He released from their captivity and began seizing for Himself. He liberated His chosen ones from the chains of death and is laying hold on them and binding them to Himself with fetters of love.

This is why Paul can say that even now all who believe on Jesus are seated with Him at the right hand of God (Eph. 2.6). Satan’s grip on us is broken. Death has no sting or victory over those who believe in Jesus. We are captive to Him, and He will never let us go. We should not live our lives from the vantage point of this world’s trials, difficulties, challenges, and woes. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places! Living as those who are captive to Jesus, and not to this world, is our daily privilege and challenge.

Sin, doubt, uncertainty, fears, hesitations, pressures – these must no longer control us; rather, we row through the infinite storm of this world’s troubles on the currents of grace and truth, drawing on the eternal resources and power of our risen and reigning King for all our daily needs.

Now, because Jesus has made us His own, He has bestowed upon us abundant gifts, so that we might use them in service to His Name, and for the progress of His Kingdom. Not only are we free, but we are lavished with gifts of life, love, truth, wisdom, peace, hope, and joy by which we embody and advance the rule of King Jesus in all the everyday circumstances of our lives.

Like Colum Cille, we may be little people; but gifted by Christ, even our little works can result in bringing great glory to His Name (Jn. 14.12; Eph. 3.20). Our duty is to row our own given coracle amid the stormy seas and against the blasting winds of this age, our eyes fixed on the Lighthouse of Jesus, remaining in the beacon of His Word, searching out the winds of His Spirit, trusting Him to draw us near, and striving toward Him in the freedom we enjoy in every area of life.

If we believe that Jesus owns us, and if we know that He has gifted and called us, let us be diligent in obeying Him, pulling hard each day at the oars of our individual callings, living as His disciples and witnesses. Not only will He take us to be with Him where He is, but we will discover the secret and power of living our lives here and now from the perspective and in the power of there and then.

We are captives of Jesus, and we dwell in the glorious liberty of the sons and daughters of God! In His power, and by His grace, we may bring His rule to bear on every aspect of our lives. Seek the Kingdom of Jesus, and live your life each day from the perspective of being seated at His right hand, and ruled by the light of His mind.

For Reflection
1. You have been seated with Christ in heavenly places. What can you do to keep that perspective more continuously before you?

2. You have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2.16). How can you make sure that your thoughts, plans, decisions, and choices are made with His mind, and not just yours?

Psalm 8.3-6 (Aurelia: The Church’s One Foundation)
When I regard Your heavens, Your handiwork above,
ordained by Your good pleasure, according to Your love,
then what am I, O Savior, that You take thought of me?
Or I should know Your favor and thus delivered be?

Yet we in Your own image with glory have been crowned,
to worship and to serve You throughout creation ‘round.
These works that sing Your glory in our poor hands are placed,
that we may rule before You to magnify Your grace.

Today, Lord, I want to practice Your Kingship and my citizenship in Your Kingdom as I…

What in heaven is Jesus doing on earth?
This is the question we address in our book, The Kingship of Jesus. Here is a fuller treatment of the importance of the ascension and reign of Jesus, and you can order your copy by clicking here.

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T. M. Moore
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All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


[1] Clancy and Márkus, p. 73.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
Books by T. M. Moore