We Would See Jesus: The Triumphant Victor of God
Just a month ago, 111.5 million people tuned in to watch the Super Bowl. As you know, every year the NFL matches the two best teams in the league against one another to decide who is the best. After 60 minutes of blocking, passing, running, and hitting, one team was handed the Lombardi Trophy to signify they were the victors. Possessing this trophy is a great honor acknowledging that team to have triumphed over all other contestants. All throughout history, cultures have erected museums, shrines, memorials, and even, in the case of Rome and France, immense arches dedicated to telling the history of their triumphs. There is a greater story, though...
All throughout time, God has been triumphing over His enemies. It’s kind of strange to think about God having challengers and fighting enemies. We don’t often consider this, but when we do, the stories of triumph are numerous. For instance, when God created the angels, He made them beautiful. His crowning angelic achievement was Lucifer, but Lucifer was not willing to stay in his position (Jude 1:6) and warred with God for The Almighty’s Throne (Is 14:12-15; Rev 12:7-10). God cast Lucifer and his allies down from Heaven (Luke 10:18). From the beginning, the Lord sat on His Throne in triumph.
Mysteriously, when Lucifer was permitted to return to Heaven to accuse Job before God and malign the power of God, the Most High honored Himself by preserving Job through great affliction and defeated the evil one’s attempts to cause Job to blaspheme God. Similarly, when the High Priest Eli’s sons lost the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines, the heathens placed it in the temple of their god, Dagon, as a memorial to the apparent greatness of their deity. In the subsequent days, not only was the statue of Dagon shattered, but the people of Philistine city-states were afflicted with disease and rats to such a degree, they cast golden statues of their afflictions as offerings to beg the God of Israel to relent. They admitted defeat and God was triumphant again (1 Samuel 5-6)
David, son of Jesse, faced a Philistine man twice his size in battle. The stakes were high. Though outmatched physically, David confidently proclaimed to the giant:
“You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand...that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand” (1 Sam 17:45-47).
The Lord skillfully guided the hand of the boy, and his stone flew true, burying deep into Goliath’s head. The giant was slain that day and the Lord was victorious again.
There are so many stories we can recall:
Yahweh vs. the Egyptian gods (Exodus 1-15)
The Israelites vs. Jericho (Joshua 6)
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego vs. Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:16-28)
God through Daniel vs. the Lions in the Den (Daniel 6)
God vs. the ever-rebellious Jewish heart told time and again through the Old Testament.
These stories reveal the cosmic warfare that exists within our universe; sinful creatures vying for control and sovereignty. In all these stories, my dear friends, God remains perfectly victorious. Those victories did not come without darkness and struggle for the men and women involved in them, but rest assured, triumph was never in doubt for God. In fact, as you read these stories, a mysterious pattern seemingly emerges, almost as if God is progressively making a series of points leading to a climactic moment...
The death of Jesus Christ, His resurrection, and His ascension to Heaven is the pinnacle of the Lord’s glory in triumph. It is the foundation of everything we know and believe about our hope and future. Remove the cross, the grave, the resurrection, and Christ’s ascension, and we have lost.
God dealt with an old enemy on Good Friday. This enemy was not a giant of a man contesting God in the temple of a foreign deity, nor was this battle decided around the roaring fires of Babylon. God the Son had been made in human likeness to undergo the punishment for the sins of His people. He would be their hero. He was to endure the wrath of God in all its infinite heat, unyielding fury, and exactness of justice. And He did precisely that. For three hours, he warred against sin, death, hades, and the insurmountable debt of righteousness His people owed for their rebellious sins. God emptied the vats of His infinite wrath onto Jesus Christ while sinners mocked him, and his enemies wagged their heads with glee.
“It is finished!”, Jesus said. Then He died. No one else recognized the victory that day. Most of Jesus’ friends had left him, His mom wept under the cross as our Savior gave up His life, and by all accounts, His ministry had come to a bloody end. What they all missed, though, was the promise given to the serpent long ago, “...he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Through the jeers and weeping, the prophesy of Abraham had been silently fulfilled: “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Genesis 22:8). God had not lost. With more than 350 prophetic promises fulfilled in Christ Jesus, could His victory have been in doubt? In every way, He has triumphed over every critic, scoffer, self-proclaimed wise man, and authority in the world!
The Apostle Paul, writing to the Colossian Church, magnifies this message of triumph when he stated, “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.” (Col 2:13-15) We celebrate Jesus Christ as the victor. We love Him as our Savior. We serve Him as our King. We bow deeply before Him as our Triumphal Sovereign who honored Himself and “loved [us] and gave Himself for [us].” (Galatians 2:20)
As you begin this precious season of Easter, remember your risen Lord, and hold fast to Him. He will not fail you because He cannot fail you, for “even if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself” (2 Tim 2:13). As we look to celebrate His resurrection, may you see Christ Jesus glorified, victorious, and wrapped in triumph. Let us await our conquering Lord “with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God” (Colossians 3:16b).