How Jesus Conquered the World and Why it Matters

Jesus described his death as a victory over the ruler of the world, as being lifted up from the earth, as drawing all people to himself.

Much of Israel’s hope was well placed. God did intend to save his people. God did intend to end tyranny and oppression. But God had chosen to do it contrary to their expectations. Jesus would establish his kingdom through becoming a crucified king. John makes this point by the way he paints the crucifixion story in John 18 through 20. John pictures Jesus as the king whose kingdom was not of this world, not characterized by oppression and tyranny. John reveals Jesus as king, crowned with a crown of thorns, clothed in a bloodied, purple robe, and lifted upon the throne of the cross.


The underlying theological fact is that the dying of Christ is a kingly act, not merely in the sense that he dies royally and with dignity, but in the sense that his dying is his supreme achievement for his people: the act by which he conquers their foes, secures their liberty and establishes his kingdom.— Donald Macleod Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement, 37.

The Gospel of John is suggestive, revealing the true nature of Jesus and his kingdom even while showing the hiddenness of that reality. Several times John shows the glory of Christ that was hidden to the people among whom Jesus walked. He appeared to be a normal man, a carpenter, but he preached and demonstrated a kingdom of grace and glory through miraculous signs and healings. And after he entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, hailed as a king, in the last week of his life he spoke of his death. He said, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (John 12:31–32).

Jesus described his death as a victory over the ruler of the world, as being lifted up from the earth, as drawing all people to himself. This sounds like the fulfillment of Israel’s hope scattered throughout the psalms and prophets. Consider a few verses that would come to mind in the audience Jesus addressed:

All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. (Psalm 22:27)

I will cause your name to be remembered in all generations; therefore nations will praise you forever and ever. (Psalm 45:17)

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah. (Psalm 67:4)

All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. (Psalm 86:9)

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)

And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:3)

The nations shall see your righteousness, and all the kings your glory, and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will give. (Isaiah 62:2)

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