The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ marks the end of the reign of sin and death in this world, as John Piper reminds us in his Easter sermon from 2005 in a sermon on Philippians 3:20–21. Here’s what he said:
Christ came. He obeyed. He bore the wrath. He bore the curse. He bore our judgment. He bore our guilt. He bore our sin. He died. He rose again. And now he reigns and we have this description of its implication in verses 20 and 21 of Philippians 3: “Our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Now we know how he got to heaven. He got there because God raised him from the dead. And now he is a God-man in heaven. He is not just an ethereal spirit, he is a man — a God-man in heaven who will transform our lowly body, our cancer-ridden body, our addicted body, our depressed body, into a body like his glorious body. And now we know he got that body, because of the assumption. He got that body because he obeyed the Father and he came and he took human flesh on. He never laid it down. Never, never, never does he cease to be the man Jesus Christ. “He will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body by the power that enables him to subject all things to himself.”
And now I want us to marvel at this. I want us to marvel at the one being spoken of here. And I see three reasons to marvel in these two verses. Number one, marvel at the power of the risen Christ to subject all things to himself. Second, marvel that one day this very power by which he subjects all the universe to himself will become employed by making your lowly body like his glorious body. And marvel, thirdly, that today your citizenship is in heaven where the King is. Let’s take those one at a time and marvel.
Number one, marvel at the power of the risen Christ to subject all things to himself. There are two senses in which he has this power. He is God. You don’t need any more authority than that to subdue all things to yourself. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Jesus Christ is God and therefore he has divine rights, Creator rights, to subdue all reality under his feet.
However, there is another sense in which he has that power, because what we learn in the New Testament is that God the Father thought it fitting and wise and just and beautiful and good and right that the one who would reign over humans and reign over all the pain of humans and all the sin of humans should be one of them before he assumes his role as reigning judge over them. There is a fitness in God’s mind that the one who will rule should also redeem, that the one who will come as the Lion of Judah will first be the Lamb slain on the cross for the sins of those he is coming to damn if they reject him (Revelation 5:5–14). It is fitting that one who sits upon the throne of the universe calling the shots, heaven or hell, will have come among them and said, “I will save you. I will save you, if you will have me.” It is so fitting that God would do it this way.
And he did it this way. He doesn’t just rule over all things by virtue of his divine Creator rights. He rules over all things by virtue of his Redeemer-purchased rights. He came among us. He bore our sin. He suffered all of our temptations. He took all of our pain. He took all of our shame so that he has not only a Creator right to subdue the world, he has a Redeemer right. There will be a fitness about him.
Listen to Hebrews 2:10: “For it was fitting [there is a magnificent word; appropriate, beautiful, well-designed, perfectly making sense out of all reality] for it was fitting that he for whom and by whom all things exist in bringing many sons to glory should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” That is a heavy verse. That is an awesome verse. I will read it again. This is Hebrews 2:10: “For it is fitting that he [this is God the Father] for whom and from whom all things exist in bringing many [of you, many of you — I pray this morning all of you] to glory should make the founder [that is, Jesus] should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.”
The Lord, the Judge, the Savior over the universe was tested. He didn’t just go up there. He was tested. He walked all your paths, suffered all your pain, tested by all of your temptations — and he conquered! Satan took hold of him, killed him. And he let him do it. “Nobody takes my life from me. I lay it down and if I lay it down, I can take it again” (John 10:17–18). He handed his life over to Satan’s last weapon. And from the inside blew it to smithereens so that now when he takes the throne and all the nations are assembled before him, they will see a lionlike lamb and a lamblike lion and they will know they are guilty for having rejected such a Savior. Don’t reject him this morning.