Every knee shall bow
R. Albert Mohler Jr. | The politics of the empty tomb
We live in an age of political intensity, and political passions often appear to drive world events. If anything, the world seems too political.
And yet, many Christians fail to understand the political nature of Christianity—even the politics of the empty tomb. In truth, the gospel of Jesus Christ is profoundly political, but not in the way many now understand politics.
The most basic questions of politics are how a society is to be ordered and by whom. The empty tomb reveals that the society of the redeemed is to be ordered by the resurrected Christ and ordered for the glory of God.
Consider Paul’s declaration found in Philippians 2:9–11. After describing Christ’s obedience to the Father, even to death on a cross, the apostle describes the exaltation of the resurrected Lord: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
The most fundamental question posed by politics is this: Who bows the knee to whom? Paul answers clearly: Every knee will bow to Jesus. Every knee, from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Every knee, both the quick and the dead. Every knee, from pauper to emperor. Every knee will bow to Jesus.
Who rules? King Jesus rules. Speaking to His disciples, the risen Jesus commanded the church with the Great Commission. With what authority? With all authority. Jesus said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).
By the declaration of the Father, the risen Son now possesses all authority in heaven and on earth. All means all.
In his great message on the centrality of the bodily resurrection of Christ from the dead, Paul explains the political meaning of the empty tomb with these words: “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order; Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every 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 ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet’” (1 Corinthians 15:22-27).
What things are subjected to the lordship of Christ? All things.
In the kingdom of Christ, the glory of God will order all things and true shalom will be forever established. In the kingdom of Christ, every eye will be dry and every tear will be wiped away. In the kingdom of Christ, the lame shall leap for joy. The prophet Isaiah declared that the wolf will live with the lamb, the child will play over the asp’s den, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. Nation will no longer rage against nation, and war will be no more.
The risen Christ will judge the nations with a rod of iron, and He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. The light of the New Jerusalem is the Lamb, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into the Holy City. There, they will give their glory to the Lamb, and the inhabitants of that city are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
This is the politics of the kingdom of Christ. In this age, Christians are called to faithfulness in the politics of the earthly city. That world of politics is marred by sin and distorted by misdirected passions. Still, Christians face real political responsibility and are to work for justice, righteousness, and love within the earthly polis.
But our eyes must be always on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. Our ultimate citizenship is in heaven, and our ultimate hopes will be realized only in the glorious politic of the kingdom of Christ. Only in the heavenly city will every eye be dry and every tear be wiped away.
Until the day the risen and exalted Christ takes us home to that city, we are to live and work in this earthly city to His glory. Until then, we live each day in the certain knowledge that soon, very soon, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Even so, Lord, come quickly.
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