…for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. (1 John 5:4-5 NIV)
What is victory for a Christian?
Our culture terms the victor as the one who wins, who dominates the opponent, who scored the most touchdowns, has the most money, lives in the bigger house. He who dies with the most toys wins.
The Bible turns that all upside down and backwards.
Give up everything you have and follow me. (Luke 18:22)
Whoever loves his life will lose it. (John 12:25)
Whoever gives up his life will save it. (Mark 8:35)
Be in submission to one another. (Ephesians 5:21)
Drag an instrument of suffering with you each day. (Matthew 16:24)
Put yourself last. (Luke 10:27)
Be a servant. (Philippians 2:7)
For Jesus, victory was death.
And, it wasn’t a death that flung open defiance into the face of authority and evil like a modern action movie.
No sword in hand riding on a foaming, snorting steed into the face of the enemy shouting “FREEDOM!” No thousands falling at his hand before he is eventually killed. No piloting a light-speed space fighter, photon torpedoes blazing, into the heart of the Death Star.
No, it was a death of complete submission.
It was an unjust, sneaky, middle-of-the-night, bloody, nasty, clandestine travesty of justice specifically designed to humiliate Him and sap any hope from His followers.
And it would have… had He not risen from the grave—just like He said He would.
But, (and here’s why God is so much greater than we can think or imagine) it saved anyone and everyone who would simply believe! It made us not just children of the One True King, but heirs to the kingdom and all it holds!
The death and resurrection of Jesus does make us more than conquerors, because neither death nor life or anything can separate us from the love of God that is in Jesus. Death doesn’t matter because we will live forever with Jesus. These lives are not our own. We were bought with a price.
Christians have been killed over the centuries in numerous painful and gruesome ways, but the terror does not incapacitate the love of Jesus—it makes it grow.
Every incidence of evil in this world, instead of disabling the people of Jesus as those who dispense terror try to achieve, causes more and more of them to pray, to seek their God, to repent, and to grow closer to Him. The Holy Spirit supplies the power, the miracle of courage and conviction in the face of evil that cannot and will not deny Jesus as LORD!
And, when we pray that the LORD our God would bless and not curse our enemies, the love grows and once again we see that the very gates of hell will not prevail against His church.
Truly, we can say, “Death where is your sting?” For if we live, we are witnesses to His love, and if we die in His name we go to be with Him-- so there is no fear in life nor in death.
And, in that moment when we realize that it’s not just death that has been conquered, but with it also fear, we have been set free by the Son and we are truly free indeed!
We sing Hallelujah! The Lamb has overcome!
For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. (Romans 14:7-8 ESV)