BIBLICAL REFLECTIONS:HE AROSE A VICTOR

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Prophecy foretold that the Messiah, the Christ, would conquer death, and that death could not hold Him captive. Through this sacrifice He would secure eternal life to everyone who believes in Him. David in Psalm 16 verse 10 prophesied this when he wrote; “Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay.” – meaning that His body will not decompose in the grave.

He Himself had revealed to His disciples repeatedly that He would lay down His life and take it back. When asked to prove with signs and wonders that He had the authority to drive the merchants from the temple, He replied: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it up in three days. ‘He arose a victor from the dark domain. And He lives forever with His saints to reign. He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!’ (Methodist hymn no 211)

The news startled His disciples whose world had literally collapsed with His death. Disheartened, as eye-witnesses, no one could recall His words. “I lay my life – only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” (John 10:17)

Towards the end of His ministry, some time prior to facing the cross, the physical body of our Lord Jesus anticipated the sufferings and would have caved in -- but for His spiritual strength that was revived as He prayed fervently: “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name! (John 12:27) Indeed, it was for this reason that He took the human body and came into this earth. That is the very reason for which He had to die. He was born to die.

His purpose was clear and unequivocal. His destiny was to destroy sin by nailing it to the cross. “He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and stood opposed to us; He took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” (Colossians 2:13b-15)

His cross constitutes a demonstration of His love for humanity. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) The love Jesus has for the whole of humanity is not self-seeking, rather it is unconditional. “But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us [you and me]” (Romans 5:8)

The only reason Jesus went to the cross to be crucified was for our sakes. “Because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions [sin]—it is by grace you have been saved.” (Ephesians 2:4-5) Nothing we have done is deserving of such love and attention. Our Lord Jesus conquered death that we might live. Adam’s sin condemned us to perpetual separation from God. Grace through Jesus Christ restored the broken relationship with the Father because of the Son’s obedience unto death. “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to death—even death on the cross!” (Philippians 2:8)

John Wesley fittingly sums the Lord’s resurrection in a hymn he penned as, ‘Love’s redeeming work is done; fought the fight, the battle’s won; vain the stone, the watch, the seal; Christ has burst the gates of hell:’ Christ, the Messiah’s work on earth has been accomplished. He Himself on the cross declared, “It is finished!” Neither the huge stone the Roman soldiers put in front of Jesus’ grave that was subsequently sealed, nor the fact that they stood watch over it, could have stopped Him from resurrecting from the dead.

Only a few weeks prior, He had manifested His authority over sin and death by raising His friend Lazarus from the dead. Death could not hold Him down, He who has the power over death. Charles Wesley continues: ‘[He] Lives again our glorious King; Where O death is your sting? Once He died our souls to save: Where’s your victory, boasting grave?’ [Methodist Hymn Book no 204]

By conquering death after having taken up a human form for our sakes, Jesus is saying to all of humanity; “I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) His conquest of humanity’s greatest preoccupation---sin and death---confirms that He has the power over all our circumstances.

The battle for our salvation has been fought and won on the cross of Calvary and Christ has given us the victory. Live a victorious life and triumph over sin and death which translates into eternal life – given through Christ Jesus alone.

Accept the divine grace by faith in Jesus Christ to be spared from God’s anger to come. (1 Thessalonians 1:10)