The Firstborn of the Dead

Read: Revelation 1:4-5a; 1 Corinthians 15:42-52

Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. (v. 5)

Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. all were powerful leaders in the struggle for a more just society. Each of them inspired millions, and each died a martyr’s death. Their words and actions are remembered, they have monuments built to them, but none of them is worshiped. You don’t worship a dead human being, no matter how good or great they were.

So why do we worship Jesus? He was an inspiring leader. He died a martyr’s death. Why do we feel so strongly that just honoring his memory or passing on his teaching isn’t enough? The answer is simple: Jesus isn’t dead. Jesus rose again, “the firstborn of the dead.” The first Christians knew that there was only one God. They were all Jews, raised with the conviction that “the Lord is God; there is no other” (Deut. 4:35). But Jesus’ resurrection confronted them with a new reality, and they could only fall on their knees before him and exclaim like Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). So grace and peace come to us not simply from God, but from the God we have come to know as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

And don’t forget the significance of that firstborn of the dead. Jesus isn’t the only one who will rise. He is the firstfruits, says the apostle (1 Cor. 15:20). Jesus is just the beginning; there’s a glorious harvest to come. —David Bast

As you pray, give thanks that because he lives, so shall we.

About the Author

Rev. Dave Bast retired as the President and Broadcast Minister of Words of Hope in January 2017, after 23 years with the ministry. Prior to his ministry and work at Words of Hope, Dave served as a pastor for 18 years in congregations in the Reformed Church in America. He is the author of several devotional books. A graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, he has also studied at both the Fuller and Calvin seminaries. Dave and his wife, Betty Jo, have four children and four grandchildren. Dave enjoys reading, growing tomatoes, and avidly follows the Detroit Tigers.