Thursday, June 20, 2024

His Victory and Present Reign

Did Jesus triumph over his enemies on the Cross and begin to rule as the Davidic King following his Death and Resurrection? Most Christians would answer, “Well, of course, he did!” Nevertheless, some popular interpretations deny this present reality by arguing that his reign over the nations of the Earth will not commence until his return in glory or some other future date or event.

A common assumption is that Jesus came as the lowly Lamb the first time, but when he comes again, he will arrive as the conquering warrior hero who will impose his rule on the nations through force if necessary. He will rule as do the political powers of this age only with supernatural powers, or so it seems.

Crown of Thorns - Photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash
[Photo by BBC Creative on Unsplash]

Jesus certainly did come the first time as the sacrificial victim who “
loosed us from our sins.” However, that does not mean he failed to conquer his enemies or begin his reign.

The New Testament does not teach that his Messianic reign has been delayed until some future event. Paul, for example, wrote that after nailing the “ordinance that were against us” to the Cross, Jesus “despoiled the principalities and the powers, and made a show of them openly, triumphing over them.” The description echoes the Roman practice of honoring conquering heroes with a triumphal parade through the streets of the imperial city – (Colossians 2:14-15).

Paul expressed a similar thought to the Ephesians. Jesus “ascended on high, having led captivity captive.” This triumphal victory occurred following his resurrection. Having raised him from the dead, God seated him “at his right hand in the heavenlies, far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come.” God also “put all things in subjection under his feet,” as promised by the Psalmist – (Psalm 110:1, Ephesians 1:20-22, 4:8).

Certainly, Jesus will reign over all the  Earth on the day he “arrives on the clouds.” However, he reigns from the Davidic throne even now. He will not return so he may beat his enemies into submission AFTER his second coming. He will accomplish that before that day. As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, at his “arrival” or ‘Parousia’:

  • Then comes the end, when he will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he will have abolished all rule and all authority and power, for he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet,” and that will include the “last enemy, death” – (1 Corinthians 15:24).

This means Christ is coming again to CONSUMMATE his reign, not to start it. Already he is subjugating his enemies as the Gospel is preached to the nations.

Unfortunately, we continue to conform our ideas to the existing world order. We hear terms like “king,” “reign,” and “conquer” and we imagine a ruler who uses his “iron scepter” to crack the skulls of his opponents. Like the rulers of the present age, we remain incapable of conceiving a political entity that does not conquer its enemies through political might, economic coercion, and military violence.

Satan has the same problem. His inability to understand the mind of God caused him to do the very thing that defeated him and his forces. If he and the “rulers of this age” had understood the “mystery” of God, they would not have “crucified the Lord of glory.” After all, the “word of the Cross” is the “power and wisdom of God,” but this is something that only the “mind of the Spirit” can understand – (1 Corinthian 1:18-23, 2:6-8).

EXALTED FOLLOWING HIS RESURRECTION


Jesus humbled himself by submitting to the shameful death of crucifixion, and this is precisely why God “highly exalted him and gave him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, and every tongue confess, that Jesus is Lord.” Note well that “exalted” is in the past tense; it is an accomplished fact and present political reality– (Philippians 2:6-11).

In the Book of Revelation, Jesus is called the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth” in the present tense. It was the “slain Lamb” who “conquered” through his death, and thereby he became “worthy” to open the “Sealed Scroll” and receive all “power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing” - (Revelation 1:4-6, 5:6-14).

For the remainder of the Book, he reigns as the “slain Lamb.” He is the messianic “son” destined to “rule the nations with his rod of iron” as described in the Second Psalm, but he uses it to “shepherd” the nations, not to smash and annihilate them.

He “conquered” through his sacrificial death, and he now summons believers to “conquer” in the same manner. That is how they qualify to reign with him on his Father’s throne. Victorious saints “conquer” Satan by the “blood of the Lamb, the Word of their Testimony, and because they loved not their lives unto death” – (Psalm 2:6-9, Revelation 3:21, 12:1-11).

In Revelation, the “slain Lamb” does not become the “King of kings” in the future. He is the “King of kings” in the present who is conquering all those who “war” against him - (Revelation 17:14, 19:11-21).

Cross Sky - Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash
[Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash]

His kingdom will be consummated upon his return, but it also is a present reality. For now, Satan is “
bound from deceiving the nations,” and if his powers had not been curtailed, he would have destroyed the Church long ago. The kingdom advances on Earth wherever the “Gospel of the Kingdom” is proclaimed, and men and women are delivered from satanic darkness and oppression.

Finally, his disciples reign with him in this life, but they do so as a “kingdom of priests,” not as conquering bloodthirsty warriors. Like the ancient priests of Israel, their task is to mediate his light in a sin-darkened world. This manner of political rule is contrary to the wisdom of this age. It can only be comprehended and implemented through the Spirit of God actively operating in his Church.



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