1 Corinthians 15:21-26 is a timeline of the entire Bible.
21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every 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.
The timeline is as simple as it is glorious.
Death came through the sin of Adam. Life comes through the sin-bearing of Christ on the cross and resurrection. Jesus is the firstfruits. His resurrection is the down payment, it’s the earnest money guaranteeing our resurrection. And when he returns two things happen: we will be raised, and he will deliver the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule.
So, what is Jesus doing today? Paul says he is reigning at the right hand of the Father and subduing his enemies.
Jesus subdues his enemies through the preaching of the gospel: while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son.”
Jesus subdues the enemies of lies and deceit:we are not waging war according to the flesh. 4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God
And Jesus is even subduing demonic authorities:through the church the manifold wisdom of God [is being made known] to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.
And notice how Jesus subdues his enemies: He is doing it through his body, the church. The church preaching, the church teaching, the church worshipping. We are just the latest to join the ranks of a 2,000-year-old army. Our battlefield is the world, the mind, the heart, and the heavens. Our weapons are the Word of God, the Waters of Baptism, the Keys of the Kingdom, and the Lord’s Table. In a word: our weapons are worship.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. But notice, that for the church death is no longer deadly. That enemy has already been partially subdued for us. As Calvin said, “the sword of death which could penetrate into our hearts has been blunted. It wounds, but without danger. We die, but by dying we enter into life.” Death may dwell in our mortal bodies, but it does not reign. Thanks be to God, that there will come a day when even death will die; when the executioner will be beheaded.
At dawn, every Easter, we celebrate that Jesus rose and began his ascent into the heavenly places, taking us with him. And just as sure as dawn is the promise that midday is coming, the resurrection of Jesus is the guarantee that life will not be denied and death will not be the victor. Today we celebrate the firstfruits, the down payment. And we look forward with eager expectation to the midday of his reign.What is that midday?
Revelation 21:23–25: And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 By its light will the nations walk, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it, 25 and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there.
Your King, who for a time was made low—even unto the grave, has risen again. The resurrection of Jesus is the first in a series of upward moves. Having come infinitely down from heaven, having taken the form of a man, and having been humiliated to the death of a sin-bearing sacrifice Jesus began to ascend. That ascension begins with his resurrection from the grave, but it doesn’t stop there. He ascends to the right hand of his Father as King & Lord. And when he returns, he’ll put death under his feet.
He is Risen. He is Risen indeed.