Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ascension: For He Must Reign

For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. (1 Corinthians 15:25)

First Corinthians 15 is known as the resurrection chapter, because Paul preaches how important the bodily resurrection of Jesus the Messiah from the dead is to the Christian faith and the salvation of the world. But it is also a chapter about the Ascension, the Second Coming and the ultimate fulfillment of all things. They all flow together.

But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming. Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be destroyed is death. For “He has put all things under His feet.” But when He says “all things are put under Him,” it is evident that He who put all things under Him is excepted. Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. (1 Corinthians 15:20-28)
Adam, the first man of the old creation, died because of his rebellion against God, and all who are in him are subject to his death. But Jesus is the firstfruits, the first Man of the new creation, by whom has come the undoing of death!

Forty days after His resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father, where “He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet.” The ascension was not merely the return of Jesus to heaven; it was an enthronement. The Father is now bringing all things under submission to Him.

This is what God had promised in the Old Testament. “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool’” (Psalm 110). The Jews of Jesus’ day understood this to be a reference to Messiah, but Jesus used this Scripture to demonstrate that Messiah, the Son of David, must also be the Lord of David (Matthew 24:41-46).

However, there is another Old Testament scripture that is very interesting in regard to our Corinthians passage, particularly because the language is more closely aligned: “You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet” (Psalm 8:6). What is interesting is that it refers to man as God originally created him, calling to mind the first chapter of Genesis:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28)
God intended man to have dominion over creation. Adam failed because of his disobedience to God. But what was lost to us in Adam has been restored to us in Jesus the Messiah, who is fully human as well as Son of God. When He ascended to the throne of heaven it was in His humanity as well as His divinity.

King Jesus is now putting an end to “all rule and all authority and power,” that is, to everything that opposes God in the world. This work will find its completion when He comes again. Death, “the last enemy,” will be destroyed and all those who belong to Jesus will be raised from the dead—the full harvest, of which Jesus is the firstfruits. The kingdom of God will be here in all its glory and power, and the will of God will be done on earth exactly as it is in heaven. Then Jesus will deliver it to the Father, that God may be glorified in everything.