Jesus’ Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Great Commission
“Jesus came near and said to them, ‘All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’” (Matthew 28:18-20)
Jesus’ Crucifixion: Securing Absolute Dominion Over His Father’s Kingdom
Jesus’ crucifixion was humanity’s greatest perversion of the Subdue and Rule Mandate.
Not only was the Subdue and Rule Mandate turned against other people at humanity’s Fall, but when Jesus was crucified, the human perpetrators turned their weaponized drive for dominion against the God-Man Himself.
In short, Jesus’ crucifixion was our most extreme expression of Conquer and Dominate against God since Eden.
However, none of this took God by surprise. Since Jesus was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8), God used the corrupted dominion drive to move people to execute Jesus, which set in motion humanity’s restoration as He had planned long before He ever created us.
Our Heavenly Father designed and orchestrated Jesus’ death to draw as many people back under His dominion as would come to Him. People must be under God’s dominion to exercise His dominion properly. Under the provision of the New Covenant, established by Jesus’ crucifixion, the door is open, and the way is clear for humanity to start on the path toward complete restoration. As Dumbrell puts it, “…the superstructure of the new covenant and new creation will have been erected, on the basis of which it will operate, namely the vicarious and representative death of Christ, and it stands secure. Access to the presence of the Deity is now assured, for the veil of the temple has been rent, etc.” (Dumbrell).
Jesus proved Himself to be the perfect sacrifice in a way that is particular to the Subdue and Rule Mandate. Jesus refused to exercise His God-given dominion illegitimately over those who were abusing theirs, for “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open his mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7). Also, “For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; when He was insulted, He did not insult in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the one who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:21-23).
Jesus’ most significant exercise of dominion was over Himself within the body, the adamah, that had been created to hold His being. Having committed Himself to His Father’s plan, His Father’s will hold dominion over Jesus’ own, even under extreme physical and spiritual duress, to the point of death. Jesus willingly subdued and ruled Himself for our sake and surrendered His spirit into His Father’s care rather than call for a legion of angels (Matthew 26:53).
Because Jesus fully trusted His Father and entrusted Himself to obey, absolute dominion over the physical and spiritual realms with all authority and power was fully granted to Him (Matthew 28:18). As said before, to those whom God trusts, great things can be entrusted to them.
The dominion Jesus gained through the cross is more than over earthly kingdoms with which Satan tempted Him at the start of His public ministry. Jesus took dominion over Satan’s domain itself via His death and proved it by His resurrection “so that through His death He might destroy the one holding the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who were held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death” (Hebrews 2:14-15).
Jesus’ Resurrection: Dominion Over Death
The Subdue and Rule Mandate played a crucial part in Jesus’ resurrection because, through His refusal to exercise dominion during His crucifixion, the Father unleashed the full potential of His dominion when He overruled death and resurrected Jesus bodily.
After Jesus’ resurrection, our Heavenly Father supercharged His human-divine Son’s Subdue and Rule Mandate with two crucial and irrevocable additions – not just authority over the earth and its creatures as the human beings, Adam and Eve, had wielded, but all authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18) and a physical body that transcended the laws of the physical world. “It could interact with the natural order, but at the same time transcended this order” (Ladd). At this time, Jesus is the only human being with the promised glorified body.
Jesus exercised His ultimate dominion over the physical and spiritual worlds with His post-resurrection body that could move between the two at will. Jesus could be physically touched (John 20:17, 27; Luke 24:39), and He could eat (Luke 24:42-43), yet Jesus could also appear and disappear as He desired (Luke 24:36, Luke 24:31). Jesus moved to the spiritual dimension of heaven in bodily form (Luke 24:51), remains at his Father’s right hand (Acts 2:33), and will return in the same manner that he ascended, physically (Acts 1:11; Revelation 19:11-16).
Even though Jesus was with His Father from the beginning, it wasn’t until His incarnation (made living flesh) that He had a body that would soon be glorified, yet remain physical, that could exist in His Father’s presence, at His right hand. It was only after His ascension to His Father that Jesus became the complete form of Daniel’s Son of Man, the Divine Man who has all of the Ancient of Days’ authority and power and who will come to judge the earth and establish God’s everlasting kingdom on earth (Daniel 7:13, 2:34-35, 44-45). Jesus could not qualify as the divine-human Son of Man as He claimed if He had not retained His physical body post-ascension.
Let me repeat, so you get the impact of what God has done.
Jesus existed in a spiritual form “In the beginning.”
He could assume human form when needed (Genesis 32:24-30; Joshua 5:13-14).
He took on human flesh at His birth (Luke 1:35).
He revealed that He was the Son of Man, but at that time, Jesus had dual human and divine natures in a physical body for earthly existence.
He rose from the dead, but now His body was glorified so Jesus could exist physically in both the material and spiritual worlds.
Jesus, post-resurrection and glorification, is now the glorified divine-human person Daniel prophesied about in Daniel 7. And ALL of His Father’s authority and power has been given to Jesus to wield when His Father provides the command to upend human dominion on earth to reestablish it as one world under God.
If that doesn’t blow your mind, what will?
“Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36).
Jesus’ physical resurrection confirms His absolute dominion over death. “Paul, however, was able to take an entirely different attitude toward it. He saw death as a conquered enemy, an erstwhile foe which now is forced to do the Lord’s will” (Erickson).
Death could not hold Jesus, for He has subdued and now rules death (Acts 2:24). Of Jesus’ dominion over death, Paul declares, “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, death, is your victory? Where, death, is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54-55). Because of Jesus’ victorious dominion, Death will eventually be destroyed forever (Revelation 20:14; 21:4).
Jesus now holds complete dominion. And because Jesus submitted Himself to His Father unto death, Jesus’ Father has raised and exalted Him “and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow—in heaven and on earth and under the earth—and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11).
Jesus has dominion “far above every ruler and authority, power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:21). Understand how awesomely significant this is. All spiritual beings, including angels, demons, and Satan, are under Jesus’ dominion, although not everything is yet subject to Him (Hebrew 2:6-9). Jesus also holds complete dominion over His people, for “He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything” (Colossians 1:18).
That means everything that exists is under Jesus’ dominion.
Animate or inanimate. Material or spiritual. Obedient or rebellious. Seen or unseen.
Are you ready for more?
Shortly before His ascension, Jesus delegated His dominion to His community, those who have been born again. Yes, Jesus says we can use His authority and power to exercise dominion, subdue and rule on His behalf and for His purposes.
Jesus is His Father’s Viceregent. We are Jesus' co-viceregents who serve alongside the Viceregent to carry out our Heavenly Father’s will on earth.
I wrote that God did not remove the Subdue and Rule Mandate from humanity when it fell. Jesus showed how our dominion drive is to be correctly used and remarkably empowered when exercised according to our Father’s will. And since Jesus holds all authority in heaven and earth, everyone who follows Jesus has access to that same authority and power to subdue and rule the world around them in Jesus’ name.
Jesus promised this to His disciples at the Last Passover. “Truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). Repeatedly, Jesus promised His disciples that they would be able to make requests of His Father for He would allow them to use “His name.” That means Jesus has authorized all His disciples’ free access to His Father and His power.
We see the proof of this through the disciples exercising Jesus’ dominion by healing people (Acts 3:6), casting out demons (Acts 16:18), and raising people from the dead (Acts 9:40-41) in Jesus’ name. Our permission to use Jesus’ authority and power to exercise dominion is part of the assignment Jesus gave His followers to extend His Father’s dominion throughout the earth.
Oh no. Don’t even think that. Just because Jesus delegated His authority and power to His disciples doesn’t mean we can ask for anything our little hearts want or our little minds can think. All exercises of Jesus’ authority and power must be according to His will, or forget it, and it won’t work.
But get this. If Jesus tells us to command a sick person to arise, all we need to do is speak it, and it will happen. “Jesus answered them, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what was done to the fig tree, but even if you tell this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ it will be done” (Matthew 21:21). “Moving a mountain” is a rabbinic idiom for doing the impossible. When it’s Jesus' will to do the impossible, you’ll have all the authority and power needed to accomplish it. Period.
Jesus’ Great Commission: The Original Commission
The Subdue and Rule Mandate plays a vital part in Jesus’ Great Commission because it’s simply the New Covenant renewal of the Original Commission – to reproduce and rule under God’s dominion.
A commission is “A duty or task committed to a person or group to perform” (Collins English Dictionary). It is also “The act of granting certain powers or the authority to carry out a particular task or duty” (American Heritage Dictionary). When Jesus called His disciples together for their commissioning, He prefaced His commission with, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18, italics author). This declaration is the foundation for the disciples’ commission.
Why the link between Jesus’ all-encompassing authority and making disciples? Because the authority to make disciples rests not with those whom Jesus sends but on Him alone. Since Jesus has authority over everything, His disciples are commanded and authorized to make disciples on His behalf and only for Him. They are not to make converts or disciples under any other authority except His. This also implies they are to carry out their task in the way He commands.
As said before, when God created humanity in His image, we were designed to function as viceregents under His sole authority. The downfall came when the couple chose to act under their own authority. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus set the same condition – solely under His authority – before He gave the command to make disciples. Jesus’ commission is for His disciples to make more disciples.
“Make disciples” is an imperative, a command, like the command God spoke to Adam and Eve at their commissioning. And how the disciples are to make disciples is prefaced with “baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (v. 19). This shows that the disciple-making process begins as the new convert enters a relationship with God through Jesus. The command to baptize “In the name of…” shows the recent convert is first to submit themselves to God’s dominion inwardly, and the subsequent immersion is the outward demonstration of this new relationship of submission to God. Once the convert reconnects with God, the Father immediately begins conforming them to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). The formerly marred Imagers are re-imaged per the restored image that Jesus images. Got that?
So, before Jesus’ disciples can make disciples, they must first make converts, i.e., recreated imagers. Jesus’ disciples are to be imagers involved in God’s work of creating new imagers. After Jesus creates new imagers through conversion, Jesus’ disciples are commanded to begin the “replication” process, making disciples. The process is summed up succinctly, “make disciples…teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Jesus’ commands are linked to His lordship, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say?” (Luke 6:46). Calling Jesus “Lord” implies submitting one’s life to His dominion by committing to obey His commands.
The three elements of the Great Commission – baptism (being created in God’s image), making disciples (reproducing), and teaching them to observe everything Jesus has commanded (ruling) are the same three elements of the original commission – bearing God’s image, reproduce, and rule. This three-fold process is the primary step in restoring all things Peter spoke of (Acts 3:21), when God restores the world to how it was initially meant to be.
By “observing everything I have commanded you,” the believer’s Subdue and Rule Mandate, the dominion drive, is placed firmly under God’s dominion, and Jesus’ commands become the instructions and boundaries (the “tree prohibition”) by which God’s dominion extends over the earth through the lives of His imagers.
One last thing. Notice that Jesus’ commission is to make more disciples, not take possession of world governments, the financial world, or any other parts of the world as some Dominionists or Kingdom Now people advocate. Jesus’ commission is not about bringing people under our Christian dominion (or domination). That’s simply the post-Fall Conquer and Dominate with a Christian veneer.
Jesus’ commission is not about subduing and ruling the world system. We aren’t sent on a campaign to Conquer and Dominate the earthly realm. That’s Jesus’ job when He returns as the Son of Man. The first “earth” we’re commissioned to subdue and rule is ourselves, our bodies made from the earth’s adamah, just like Jesus did. Jesus is first and foremost concerned with His followers becoming what we were meant to be before we exercise His dominion over our personal worlds. Only after Jesus returns and restores all things will we embark on whatever earthly dominion effort He assigns us.
The best part is that in the meantime, we’re not in this alone. Jesus promised to be with us as we go through this whole process. After all, He’s watching over His investment to ensure we succeed, grow and produce much fruit!
So now that Jesus has created the New Covenant community of developing imagers, how are we to subdue and rule ourselves? How does a bunch of disciples exercise the Subdue and Rule Mandate together without creating conflict? Our next step is to look at the New Covenant scriptures to see how this idea is interwoven deeply into the fabric of Jesus’ New Covenant community.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language
Christianson, Return to Eden: The Great Commission is the Original Commission, Sermon at Issachar Community, 06/29/2019
Collins English Dictionary
Dumbrell, William J. Covenant and Creation, An Old Testament Covenant Theology
Dumbrell, William J. The End of the Beginning, Revelations 21-22 and the Old Testament
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology
Hill, Gary, and consulting ed. Gleason L. Archer. The Discovery Bible
Ladd, George Eldon, Ed. Donald A. Hagner, A Theology of the New Testament
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts