The Firstborn Dies . . . and Is Raised

David Landegent

READ : 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

He is . . . the firstborn from the dead. (Col. 1:18)

Twice in this hymn Paul calls Jesus the firstborn, a status that normally brought prestige and privileges. Yet the ways of God are not the ways of humanity. Nearly every firstborn son in the Old Testament did not receive prestige or privilege.

Adam's firstborn son Cain was cursed for killing Abel. Abraham's firstborn Ishmael was bypassed for Isaac. Isaac's firstborn Esau sold his birthright. Jacob cursed his firstborn Reuben, favoring Joseph instead. Samuel ignored Jesse's firstborn son Eliab and anointed David as king. David's oldest son Amnon was killed by Absalom and the kingdom went to the younger Solomon.

Being firstborn in biblical history was not a wonderful thing. Instead we see that the first are last, and the last are first. Even Jesus is not exempt from this. Though he is the firstborn of creation (Col. 1:15), he dies, despised and rejected by men. On the cross he takes on the curse of sin and experiences the rejection of the heavenly Father. Jesus was the first who became last for us.

But then Jesus was raised, and the last became first! Jesus became the firstborn from the dead, signaling more resurrections to follow. Paul highlighted this order in 1 Corinthians 15:23, “Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.” Or, as Jesus put it, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19).

PRAYER

Thank you, Jesus, for being the first who became last, and then first again—all for us.