1 CORINTHIANS 15, 20-28
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
The farthest thing from the minds of the heathen soldiers who were bowing down and calling Jesus, the King of the Jews, was to give praise and honor to God. And yet, that’s exactly what they did. They were mocking Jesus, adding insult to his misery. When Pilate put that placard on top of Jesus’ cross, calling Him, the King of the Jews he was making the Jews look foolish. And yet God used these heathen men to proclaim the precious gospel to the world, telling the world that Jesus is the King of the Jews, the Messiah God had promised to Adam and Eve
Oh, I admit that on Good Friday, Jesus didn’t look much like a king. Kings don’t get themselves crucified on a cross. But then what king looks like a king in the middle of the war? When the king is fighting alongside his men in the heat of battle, his clothes are stained with mud and sweat. He probably is covered with the blood of the enemies he has killed. He looks like a mess. But after the battle, when the king sits on his throne, and the enemy is brought before him, and he will decide who will live and who will die, now they know he is a king, and they tremble.
On Good Friday, Jesus was in the middle of His war. But His war was not about power, might and strength. It was about sacrifice. It was about being the Perfect Lamb who would be sacrificed on God’ altar to take away the sins of the world. But on Easter Sunday, with the tomb empty, Jesus had conquered all His enemies. He destroyed Sin, Satan, and death. On Easter Sunday Jesus showed that what those heathen said about him was true. Not only was Jesus the king of the Jews, JESUS IS THE KING OF THIS WORLD.
But in the church at Corinth some people were teaching that there is no resurrection from the dead, and this confused a lot of Christians. Paul set them straight. If there is no resurrection from the dead, then Jesus didn’t rise from the dead. And if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, Paul is a liar, we are still caught in our sins, and we are separated from God, and we will spend eternity in hell.
But Paul exclaims, “But Christ has indeed risen from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” Jesus rose from the dead, and showed Himself to many of His disciples, including Paul. He is the “firstfruits!” His resurrection guarantees that all His disciples will also rise from the dead.
And this is where these people had a problem. Jesus promised that Christians would be raised from the dead. But so far that hasn’t happened. These pious Christians who faithfully followed Jesus, are still dead, and their bodies are decaying. So, much for Jesus’ promise that Christians will also rise, like He did.
So, Paul tells them, “But each in his own turn, Christ, the firstfruits, then when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come.” The resurrection of the dead will happen! These people will be brought out of their graves. But at the proper time. Jesus first! And then when He comes back to end the world, then God’s believers will be raised to life again and reunited with their souls.
And until that time, until the Lord comes back to end the world, Paul says that Jesus “must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.” When Jesus rose from the dead, the war was over. Jesus crushed each and everyone of His enemies. Sin! Satan! Death! He has taken away all their power. And now, Jesus reigns over this entire world. Because of His resurrection, JESUS IS THE KING OF THIS WORLD!
Of course, there are still people today who want to put a question mark behind that statement. “JESUS IS THE KING OF THE WORLD? REALLY? Jesus doesn’t look much like a king, and He certainly doesn’t look like He has anything under control. Have you seen our world lately? This world seems to be out of control. And it certainly doesn’t look like the world is doing what Jesus wants.
But that’s normal. Unbelievers never believe that God is in control of anything. But the sad thing is that sometimes, even we Christians want to put a question mark behind those words. Sometimes, even we Christians wonder, is Jesus really the king of this world? Is Jesus really in control?
Jesus conquered sin? Jesus conquered Satan? Destroyed their power? Crushed them into the dust of the ground? So, why do we sin so much? Why is it so easy for me to ignore what God says, and do what Satan says? Why do I need to confess a whole bunch of sins every day of my life?
If Jesus destroyed Satan and his power, why does Satan seem to be running around this world, able to do anything he wants? Why does he get so many wicked people to do so wicked things? Why is he still destroying families? Why does he still confuse and terrify our young people? Why does he seem to be undeterred in doing whatever he wants? If Jesus is in control, why doesn’t He stop Satan in his tracks, and keep him from doing all the things he’s doing?
If Jesus really conquered death, and crushed its power, why are people still dying? Why am I going to so many funerals? Why are some of the nicest people I know, people who have made a huge difference in the lives of people suddenly gone. If Jesus conquered death, if Jesus is really the King of this world, why doesn’t He do something about this?
You would think that if Jesus were the King of the world, if Jesus really had conquered all these enemies, then He would control all these things, and make this world a better place to live? He would punish all those people who do wicked things, and give them what they deserve. He would show the world that if you do evil, you will feel the wrath of God, and if you do good, you will see God’s blessings? I mean that’s what a king should do, right?
And if that is your definition of what a king should do, then yes, Jesus doesn’t look much like a king. But then realize that the kingdom of Jesus in this world is not a kingdom of justice, but a kingdom of grace and mercy. It’s not about giving people what they deserve. Its not about making sure things are fair. It’s not about punishing the guilty and rewarding the good. It’s not about rooting out all the evil people, and filling this world with only people who are nice. It’s not about having people live forever in this world.
Jesus’ kingdom in this world is about giving people second chances, and third chances, and twenty-fifth chances. It’s not about punishing evildoers, it’s about having patience with them, giving them an opportunity to hear about Jesus, repent, believe, and enjoy eternal life with Jesus. It’s about allowing Christians to put their faith into practice. It’s about allowing Christians to go through difficult times, so they can show their faith to the world in hopes of winning them for eternal life.
Jesus does reign over this world, so Jesus won’t allow the things in this world to hurt us. Sin? Yes, we will. More often that we should? Follow Satan’s path instead of following God’s path? Yes! More often than we should. But that will never separate us from our God! That will never make us so wicked that God’s mercy and forgiveness will ever be taken from us. Will we need to deal with death? Yes! But Jesus has taken the curse out of death. We will have comfort and peace, even at death. Will we go through hard times, and perhaps endure things that good people should never have to endure? Yes! But even there, God will lead us through it, and keep us safe through it, and will allow us to use this incident to show our faith to other and hopefully get them to trust in Jesus so they can also have eternal life. Everything that happens to us, Jesus will turn to accomplish what He wants to accomplish, because He is in control, and He is the King of this world.
There will come a time when “he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” When Jesus comes back the world will end, and everything we know will disappear. The only thing we see will be Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who has come to judge the world. The time of grace and mercy is over. The time of justice and judgment is here. And those Roman soldiers who bowed down in ridicule before Jesus, will bow down again, and this time in fear and terror. Sin will be no more. Satan will be cowering in fear in the farthest recesses of hell, because he knows what’s going to happen to him. And death will be totally gone. No more death. People will live eternally. Those who believe in Jesus will live eternally in heaven with Jesus. Those who do not believe will live eternally in hell. And everyone will know that Jesus is the King of the world. Some will rejoice over it! Some will weep and mourn because of it.
Until that day, rejoice that we still live in a time of grace, a time of patience, a time of hope, a time of forgiveness. Rejoice that Jesus uses us to possibly make an eternal difference in someone’s life. But also realize that Jesus will make everything that happens to us, everything that happen to us, work out what He wants to happen. Rejoice in Jesus’ resurrection, for because of that, what those Roman Soldiers said is true, JESUS IS THE KING OF THIS WORLD