The New Testament declares that Jesus has reigned sovereign over the Cosmos since his death and resurrection, as counterintuitive as this may be. Jesus declared this very thing to his disciples after he rose from the dead:
“And Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and, behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18-20).
When he arrived in Caesarea Philippi, Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do men say that the Son of man is?” Peter gave the correct answer: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then revealed that he must “go to Jerusalem and suffer many things of the elders, chief priests and scribes, and be killed,” though God would resurrect him on the third day (Matthew 16:13-28).
Jesus called his followers to deny themselves, take up the cross and, in this way, to follow him. Discipleship means unjust suffering for his sake. The “Son of Man” would rise from the dead and one day return in glory to judge humanity, but not before he endured unjust suffering and death at the hands of the unrighteous.
Jesus promised that some of his disciples would not die until they saw the “Son of man coming in his kingdom,” a clause alluding to Daniel 7:13-14:
“And I saw coming on the clouds of heaven like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days…and there was given him dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and tongues should serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
After his resurrection, Jesus declared, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” As the resurrected Messiah and the Son of Man, he laid claim to ALL authority, whether in heaven or on earth, just as promised by the Prophet Daniel. His words also echoed the messianic prophecy from Psalm 2:7-8:
“Yahweh said to me, You are my Son; this day have I begotten you. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.”
This absolute authority is precisely why Jesus commanded his disciples to proclaim the gospel to all nations, for he was now the sovereign over the nations, the “ruler of the kings of the earth.” His disciples were to proclaim his rule over the earth, as paradoxical as it might be (Revelation 1:4-5).
Because of his faithfulness, God raised Jesus from the dead and made him the absolute sovereign over the heavens and the earth. “God has made this same Jesus whom you have crucified both Lord and Christ.” He set him at His right hand, “far above all principality, power, might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world but also in that which is to come…and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Acts 2:36 Ephesians 1:20-22).
Because of Christ’s faithful obedience, even when it meant death on a Roman cross, God has highly exalted him and “given him a name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Already, as a result of his death and resurrection, Jesus is the “faithful witness,” the “firstborn of the dead,” and the “ruler of the kings of the earth.” This means that Jesus already has all the authority necessary to reign over the Cosmos. He is not waiting to receive sovereignty at some future point; he already has it (Revelation 1:5).
And, just as he promised, his disciples saw his kingdom arrive in power as a result of his death and resurrection, with the sole exception of Judas. It is because Jesus now has all power and authority that he can send his disciples to proclaim the good news of his reign to all nations. Anyone who rejects his “good news” does more than refuse a new religious creed; he or she defies the rule of the Son of Man and, thus, aligns with the “the nations that rage and the kings of the earth” that set themselves against Yahweh’s anointed (Psalm 2:1-2).