Christ Rules Over Everything
Christ the King
November 26, 2017
Lincoln Heights Lutheran Church
Christ Rules Over Everything
1 Corinthians 15:20–28 (NIV84)
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 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. 28 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.
Dear friends in Christ,
Last week I asked you if you were winning at life. Though our life may not look to be winning in the world’s eyes and we have losing days spiritually too, we are and will be saints triumphant. Through Christ we have the victory and will be with the Lord forever.
Today I ask you this question: Is Christ winning? 58 people die by going to a country music concert in Las Vegas. 27 die when they went to church in Texas. And yes the official count is 26 but the baby yet to be born counts just as much as any adult. Why didn’t Jesus stop the violence?
Is Jesus winning the hearts and minds of people in our country? In religious surveys, more and more people have big misunderstandings about basic Christian teachings and a growing number desire to have no religious affiliation.
Is Christ winning in places like South Sudan where the people in power are killing those of other tribes? What about places like Egypt where Christian churches are regularly attacked or Saudi Arabia where Christianity is not allowed to be openly practiced? Is Christ winning in China where Mao attempted to wipe out Christianity?
When we look around this world, we may wonder if Christ is truly the King of all who rules over everything. It sometimes looks like anarchy and evil rule the day. Just as Paul assured us last week that we will be triumphant saints because of Christ, so also Paul reminds us today that Christ is truly our King and King over everything. He has won and he will win.
Christ’s Resurrection Rule
The Greek world at the time of the apostle Paul did not consider resurrection from the dead possible. In this way, the philosophies of that time are much the same as today. Scientifically, resurrection is not possible. When Paul proclaimed the resurrection of Christ to the philosophers in Athens, some of them sneered at Paul. Who would listen to a man who said that Jesus, a man, rose from the dead? Paul left Athens and went to Corinth where he spent a year and a half preaching the gospel. But these were also people who grew up in that Greek city, influenced by the philosophies of the day. Resurrection from the dead was a difficult thing to believe.
Paul has spent the first part of chapter 15 of his first letter to the Corinthians explaining to them why Christ’s resurrection is so important. First of all, it is true and many people witnessed it. Secondly, if Christ did not rise from the dead, we are not forgiven. Thirdly, if Christ did not rise, then neither will anyone else. If Christianity is only about following Christ’s example in this life with no hope of resurrection to eternal life, then Paul says, “we are to be pitied more than all men.” Paul answers emphatically:
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
We have a victorious King in Jesus who rose from the dead and still lives and rules over all things. Therefore our sins are forgiven and we too will rise. We who live today can look back at Christ and see his victory on Easter and rejoice in our King who conquered death. Our King reigns!
How many people looked at Christ on Good Friday and saw the King of all? Pilate asked Jesus if he was a king and Jesus tried to explain how he was a different kind of king, that his kingdom was not of this world. Pilate had the sign made to mock either Jesus or the Jews, probably both. Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews. Who would truly believe what that sign said above the head of a man dripping with blood from his thorn pierced head and nail pierced hands and feet? Who would believe that the King of all things cannot even prevent his own crucifixion? Most of his disciples and followers fled. They were too scared and sad to stay and watch Jesus die. Christ’s mother Mary stayed as did several other women. John also stayed. Perhaps they could see through the suffering what Jesus was doing as their King. The repentant thief next to Jesus saw past the suffering to eternal life. He trusted in Jesus who was dying next to him and Jesus promised him that he would be in paradise that day!
Peter did not want Jesus to suffer and die in Jerusalem and tried to stop Jesus. Peter wanted only to see Jesus’ glory and not his suffering. Jesus’ enemies taunted him, saying that he should come down from the cross if he really was the Christ, the Son of God. Friend and foe alike want to see the glory of Christ the King.
When we see suffering in this world, we may be tempted to wonder where Christ is. Why hasn’t Jesus stopped the violence, the suffering, the disease, the hunger or whatever it might be? What if Jesus avoided the cross like Peter wanted or stepped down from the cross like his enemies wanted? Our sins would still count against us and we would be lost forever. What if Jesus eased his forty day fast by turning stones into bread like the devil tempted him? Our sins would still count against us and we would be lost forever.
We humans have incomplete and flawed wisdom when it comes to knowing what is best for us and for the world. Christ the King’s suffering and death was best for the world. By it all sin was paid for all people. How can we judge what suffering Christ should end in this world if we humans would have stopped the suffering of Christ that saved the world? May God’s will be done while this world lasts and into eternity.
Christ’s Final Rule
Christ’s victorious resurrection and rule over all things will be revealed to all on the Last Day.
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
Every enemy will be finally defeated on the last day. For now, the devil has some power to harm. Like a dog on a chain, he can harm you when you get too close. But when Christ comes in all his glory on that day, the devil will never again be able to harm God’s people. Neither will any evil spirit. Sin and its evil effects will be gone forever. No more sickness, sadness, death or disease. The human enemies of Christ who have opposed and oppressed the name of Christ and his people in this world will meet Christ the King on that day and be sent to eternal death. Every enemy of Christ will be vanquished on that day. Therefore, we rightly say as John did in Revelation, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
But God has chosen the time and day for this great day of victory for Christ and his people. While we wait, we will suffer in this life. Why does God wait to bring about this day instead of bringing victory to his believers now? He is patient, not wanting any to perish but everyone to come to repentance. Therefore, we are also patient as we await Christ the King’s return. We patiently endure suffering in this sinful world, not because our suffering pays for sin, but because Jesus’ suffering paid for our sin. We hold to our faith in Christ when suffering because we have a King who rose from the dead and will return for us. We turn to Christ in hope during suffering in the hope that our example will lead others to know and believe in Christ the King too. It is a powerful testimony about our Redeemer when a believer has everything taken from them in this life and still confesses that Christ is the King of all. Job, who lost everything said it this way, “I know that my Redeemer lives and in the end he will stand upon the earth and after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God, I myself will see him with my own eyes, I and not another. How my heart yearns within me.” (Job 19:25-27)
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