For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep. I Thessalonians 4:14
Long ago, when Roman conquerors returned from a victorious campaign, they would parade down the avenues under triumphal arches with a long retinue of prisoners of war. When a man like Eisenhower had a “ticker tape” reception on Broadway, he was usually accompanied by a crack troop of soldiers who fought under him and made the successes possible.
Both of these ideas are present in Scripture’s description of Christ’s exciting return to receive His crown and His kingdom. One the one hand, those who accompany Christ are His prisoners, His willing slaves (I Corinthians 7:22), whom Christ captured at a terrible price from the army of His great enemy, the devil. Like the Israelites of old, they have been freed from the bondage of Beelzebub to become prisoners of love.
On the other hand they are more than mere prisoners who trudge behind their captor in chain-gang lockstep. Like the unfortunate East Berliners and the victims of Communism behind the Iron Curtain elsewhere, they are thrilled to become energetic participants in the army of their liberators the moment that they are freed.
Like the heroes of any successful campaign, these willing warriors in Christ’s army will have a share in His rewards. Like a Roman general of old He divides lavish gifts among His loyal soldiers. (Ephesians 4:8) What a sight it will be to see an endless parade of happy warriors following Christ to earth with shouts and songs. What a thrill as we single out this loved one and that, as we did in recognizing soldier-boys in Armistice Day parades. What excitement as the glad Prince beckons His followers around to receive their laurels and trophies.