1 Corinthians 15:25
For he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet.
"Must" is for the king; and concerning King Jesus there is a Divine necessity that He must reign. He was once the King of misery — in that kingdom He reigned supreme. That thorn-crown is pre-eminent in the sorrows which it signifies. To-day He is the King of glory, enthroned far above all principalities and powers. He must reign because He is God. "The Lord reigneth" must ever stand a truth. He must reign as man; for the Lord has made a covenant with David that of his seed there should sit upon the throne of Israel for ever a King to rule in righteousness, and Jesus of Nazareth is that King. He must reign also as the Mediator. At this time the sovereignty of the world is committed to His keeping, the headship of His Church, the government of providence, the ruling of heaven, and earth, and hell, as the mediatorial monarch.
I. WHAT ARE THY REASONS FOR THIS "MUST"? The lamb as seen by John had seven horns of power, and here are seven reasons why he should possess the throne for ever.
1. His empire in itself is such as to ensure perpetuity. There have been many empires of which men said that if they were overthrown, the very pillars of the earth would be removed; yet in due time they were swept away. Christ must reign because —
(1) His reign over the human mind is based upon truth. At one time Plato reigned supreme over thoughtful minds; then Aristotle; but another philosophy supplanted him, to be in its turn subverted by the next. Things which were accounted sure and wise are now ridiculed. And why? Because these systems of philosophy and thought have not been based upon truth. But the truth which Jesus taught, reads as if it were delivered but yesterday. Christianity is as suitable to the nineteenth century as to the first.
(2) His dominion over human hearts is based upon love. Napoleon said at St. Helena: — "My empire has passed away. I founded it upon the sword, and it is gone. Jesus Christ established an empire upon love, and it will last for ever." His person is the incarnation of love, His teachings are the doctrines of love, His precepts are the rule of love, His Spirit is the creator of love, His whole religion is saturated with love, and because of this His kingdom cannot be moved.
(3) It is the one great remedy which this sad woe-begone world requires. The world is like the troubled sea that cannot rest, and there is but one foot which can tread its waves, and but one voice which can say, "Peace, be still." Jesus is the true liberator of captive nations. The agonising groans of earth demand the sovereignty of Jesus, and therefore we believe that He must reign, for God will yet give His creature what it needs. His Father decrees it. Up till now God has maintained the throne of His Son. Read Psalm 2 and see.
3. Divine justice demands it. The Father promised that He should be a leader and a commander of the people, and determined as the result of His humiliation that He should mount to a superior throne as the Son of man and the Son of God. Shall God belie His word?
4. It is inwrought into the order of providence. A few months ago the trees were bare; but it was in the order of providence that there should be a spring, and here it is. We cannot say that in any one day it seemed to make any great advance. Even when the days lengthened we saw no great progress, but, surely and steadily the veins of the trees were filled with sap and the buds first swelled and then revealed their glories. So Christ's reigning is woven into the warp and woof of providence, and though He has not yet drawn all men unto Him, it is coming.
5. The Holy Spirit has been given to the Church to subserve this glorious end. He can soften the most obdurate, He can turn to kindness the most cruel, and lead into light the most darkened. Now, the possession of the Holy Spirit is the Church's treasury. Here is her battleaxe, and here are her weapons of war. You who preach Christ, or teach Him in the school, do not become discouraged under difficulties, when you recollect that you are workers together with God.
6. Christ is naturally the chief of the human race. "He is the chief among ten thousand and the altogether lovely." There is none to rival Him.
7. The power to reign belongs to Him. "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." "Go ye, therefore," saith He, "and teach all nations." Jesus Christ is no puny pretender to the throne, nor a rightful owner without power to win His own, but as His cause is good, His arm is strong. Ours is no desperate warfare, but a royal crusade, in which every soldier is even now a priest and a king, and is on the way to the banquetting-halls where men feast with God, and Jesus for ever and ever wears the fadeless diadem.
II. THE ENCOURAGEMENT TO BE GATHERED FROM THIS "MUST." If Christ must reign, then —
1. All our enemies shall be subdued,
(1) Now, you are called to fight daily with sin, and here is your consolation, Jesus must reign. The Christ in you must bruise Satan under your feet. He shall put His foot on the neck of my pride, and shall command my every thought and wish. Where I cannot rule, Jesus can. Jesus has made us kings and priests that we may reign over the triple monarchy of our nature — spirit, soul, and body, and that, by our self-conquest, He may be undisputed sovereign of the Isle of Man. Corruption is very strong, but Christ is stronger.
(2) When the last enemy appears in view, it shall only be an opportunity for new triumphs, when the Lord of life shall reveal Himself with renewed splendour.
2. Our efforts are, after all, not in vain. If Christ must reign, then every soldier who fights for Christ is contributing to the victory, and every one who in any way advances the cause is working with sure and great results.
3. What becomes of us is of no consequence at all. If He will only take me into the royal galley, and let me pull till I have no more life left, I will be satisfied, if I may but row my Lord towards His throne, and have but the smallest share in making Him glorious in the eyes of men and angels. What cares my heart for herself if she may but see Jesus set on high? How this ought to inspirit all of you who grow downhearted about the cause of Christ! Do you not believe in the gospel as the power of God?
III. AN ADMONITION.
1. "Jesus must reign." You have been opposing Him, have you? You are kicking against the pricks with naked feet: you are stumbling upon this stone, and you will be broken; and if the stone shall take to rolling down, like a massive rock, on you, it will grind you to powder.
2. If Jesus Christ must reign, then you who have never submitted yourselves to Him to accept Him as your monarch, will find His reign as terrible as it is sure. He will reign over you, either by your own consent or without it.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.