An earthly reign from a heavenly throne
“For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” (1 Corinthians 15:25 ESV)
Do you remember what Jesus said after his resurrection and right before his ascension? “And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.’” (Matthew 28:18) What was that about? It doesn’t mean he was less than God before this or lacked any power. What it does mean is that his resurrection inaugurated a new reign, a new realm, a new kingdom. The kingdom of God established on earth. God the Father gave to the Son all authority over every realm and he mediates this authority from heaven on earth. He has all authority. It’s like the old saying, “Where does a lion sleep?” “Wherever he wants.” Jesus is like that. He rules with absolute authority. He goes and moves and revives anywhere he sovereignly chooses. He must reign and he will reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. This refers to the ancient practice of a conquering king putting his foot on the neck of the conquered king. It was symbolic of absolute domination and victory.
Christ has all authority but clearly he does not yet exert that authority in its fullness. This doesn’t mean he isn’t reigning right now. He is on his throne. Yet Satan continues his rebellion. Demons continue their mischief. Billions of humans do not acknowledge Jesus as Lord. In fact, in some ways we could look around and say, This doesn’t look like a victory at all! What is he waiting for?
Why is Jesus’ waiting? Why the delay? The gospel of the kingdom hasn’t been proclaimed to all nations yet (Matthew 24:14). The end won’t come until it is. Jesus is waiting. Peter writes, “Count the patience of our Lord as salvation.” (2 Peter 3:15). He’s waiting until all his people are saved. He won’t lose a single one of them and that includes us. We should be glad he waits because his patience means our salvation. But someday, the waiting will be over…
The Return of the King
We pick up the cosmic story. In one moment, all these principalities and powers set against him and every human heart that refuses his kingship, all of them will be stunned by the appearance of the King.
“Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Revelation 19:11-16)
What has led to this? Sin was defeated in the cross. Death was destroyed by his resurrection. His enemies are destroyed by his second coming. What happens in the end is breathtaking. It’s all about the Father and the Son. “Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father.” (1 Corinthians 15:24) Verse 28 gives a little more detail. “When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him [God the Father] who put all things in subjection under him [Christ], that God may be all in all.” (clarifications mine)
In the end, this isn’t ultimately about the kingdom of God. It is about God and the infinite love between God the Father and God the Son. When Jesus has defeated every enemy, saved and resurrected every believer, fulfilled every purpose the Father gave him, he gives a gift to his Father. What’s the gift? A fully restored creation. A kingdom now extended into every possible realm. This is Philippians 2:10, “Every knee [will] bow…and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” With every enemy under his feet via judgment and hell, and a restored creation through the new heaven and earth, and a redeemed and glorified humanity, the Son presents a created order completely redeemed and restored as a gift to the Father. Then he submits himself to the Father so that “God may be all in all.” (1 Corinthians 15:28) The story ends where it began. Frodo is back in the shire. Dorothy is back in Kansas. And God reigns over all.
Where are we in the story? Every person on earth is in this story. Hopefully not an enemy. Certainly not God the Father. Not God the Son. We’re not the white horse. I heard this years ago and it has stuck with me. Amazingly…
We are the gift the Son gives to the Father
The Son gives to the Father the kingdom and the kingdom is more than us, but it most certainly includes us. We are the love expression of Jesus. Can you believe it? We are a symbolic gift of how much the Son loves the Father. How willingly he obeyed. The humiliation of becoming a baby. The fruit of those tears in Gethsemane. The anguish on the cross. We are the fruit of all that, and in the end, we are his gift to the Father. For all eternity, as the Father sees us walking, and running, and dancing around in our resurrected bodies, he will think, O how my Son loves me….
Are you in the kingdom? Is Jesus your King?
Friend, if you’ve not submitted your life to this King by believing in what he did on your behalf, the King invites you into his kingdom. There is access to all, but only those who put their personal trust in him and submit to his Lordship may enter.
Christian, is your heart and life in total submission to him? He rules over every inch of this universe and that includes your heart and life, but we can resist him for now. Why would we? Recommit yourself today to being a fully surrendered servant to the King of kings and Lord of lords. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
© 2017 by Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s website address (www.bethelweb.org) on the copied resource.
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