The victory of our Lord Jesus
The uncertain victory over Covid-19
This morning I want to talk about the Lord Jesus, His victory, and the confidence believers can have in Him.
That is always good to think of and talk about, but what has prompted me in particular this week is the contrast between His victory and the victory so many are celebrating in moving to step 3, the victory in virus suppression. I am grateful for the low numbers, grateful that we seem to be moving in the direction of the fuller relaxation of restrictions that will allow us to gather, but what struck me is how limited the outcome of this ‘victory’ – for example, I am still wearing masks, still unable to have my whole family around at one time – and how fragile the achievement. Fear of a third wave is palpable, with many still anxiously tuning in for the daily numbers. The contrast between human saviours and the true Saviour is always so marked, and the felt difference has again made me very grateful that in believing in Jesus our trust is not in humans, but in the living God.
The certain victory of Christ
You see, there is nothing uncertain or fragile about the victory of Christ. It is both certain and secure, and its achievement is complete. It is good, wonderful to know and always remember that. Sometimes we can obscure that with our illustrations. Take the illustration that likens Christ’s death and resurrection to D-Day and his return to VE day in the 39-45 war. That analogy is useful in illustrating the now and not yet of our experience of the fruits of victory – the reality that we enjoy now forgiveness and new life of the Spirit, but we await the return to enjoy to the full victory over death, the not yet of the new heaven and earth. But it is misleading if it is used to suggest that the battle between Jesus and His foes is still underway, that there could still be an offensive of the devil or another expression of human rebellion, a spiritual ‘Battle of the Bulge’, that could threaten the outcome.
Jesus’ victory in His incarnation, death and resurrection is complete, the outcome now never in doubt.
Let me give you some of the many Scriptures that make this point.
Jesus, speaking in John 12:31-32 says of His coming death
"Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
From the time of the cross the ruler of this world is cast out – done with. Jesus occupies the throne, and He will be the one all must deal with.
After His resurrection and before His ascension He says
"And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
All authority. Not some, with some still contested, some still be possessed. All. No competitor can rival him. All power and government is subject to Him.
Hear the apostle Paul speak of Jesus’ achievement.
"And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
Not will, but has highly exalted Him and given Him now the name to which all will bow. He can’t achieve more, for there is no more to achieve.
"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."
So complete is His victory that not only are we forgiven the powers just make up part of His victory parade, the enchained opponents dragged along at the end.
Or the author of Hebrews.
"But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."
Jesus is no longer out on the field battling away. His death has done all that needs to be done to save His people. He is sitting down, and it is just a matter of the subjugation of His conquered enemies being made plain by them being made the footstool for His feet.
Jesus is no longer out on the field battling away.
His death has done all that needs to be done to save His people.
These are all well known passages and their message could be multiplied [e.g. Revelation 12:10-12, Ephesians 1:19-22, Acts 2:32-36]. The gospel we preach is ‘Jesus is Lord’ [2 Cor. 4:5]. Not becoming Lord when people trust Him. He is Lord. His dominion is everlasting and His achievement limitless.
Considering Jesus' acheivements
Consider His achievement, and I can only mention a few aspects.
- HE is a present Saviour. HE is with us, and is near when we call on Him, almighty to help us wherever we are.
- HE gives the holy Spirit, unquenchable life, assuring us of our future, the deposit guaranteeing our inheritance, and transforming our present.
- Believers are now justified and assured of peace with God [Romans 5:1-11] peace with God now and forever, of being spared wrath on the day of wrath.
- We can boldly approach the living God. There need be no hesitancy, no masks or veils holding us back from being present in His presence. We can rely on His grace [Eph. 3:11-12, Hebrews 4:14-16].
- The Kingdom, the longed for reign of God, is what Jesus says it is no matter how it appears to us, spreading like leaven - unseen, growing to be the largest of trees, growing up to the harvest despite opposition, worth everything [Matthew 13:24-50].
- Even death serves believers because of Jesus’ achievement. It’s a falling asleep, the doorway to rest and then the transformation of our bodies to be like His in the resurrection [1 Cor. 15; Rev. 14:13].
Considering our own frailty
When the limitations and frailty of human achievement is so obvious it is good to remember the greatness and certainty of the achievement of our Saviour. When our own limitations and frailty are so apparent it is good to have our minds filled with the greatness of our Saviour.
And our limitations and frailty have been made obvious by this time.
When our own limitations and frailty are so apparent it is good to have our minds filled with the greatness of our Saviour.
And our limitations and frailty have been made obvious by this time.
Our planning has been exposed as so uncertain by this virus, but the virus serves Him. His plans are sure and we can rely on our almighty good shepherd to guide us to His good goal for us. We don’t need to be anxious.
We have been reminded of our mortality. But He has conquered death, we do not need to fear.
We have seen our personal frailty, how hard to be the people we want to be, to keep an even temper, to be always thankful, to not become irritable in lockdown. But Jesus is always on the job to keep us, and His strength is made perfect in weakness, His Spirit is at work in us. We can rely on Him to have us keep living the lives of His followers.
This lockdown has even exposed our sin, the cracks in our godliness, but our Lord Jesus has brought us into the new covenant where our sins are remembered no more, even the sin of our imperfect faith. We can rely on His grace.
And where the exposure of our sin might make us fearful of our strength to persevere, He has said He is mighty to keep us, that no one can pluck us from His hand.
In a world of insecure and incomplete achievement it is good to think on Christ and His victory. We preach Jesus as Lord. And it is good to live by faith in the light of His victory, with confidence that He is with us, confidence that He hears us and will help us, confidence that even in suffering He is treating with us in love for there is no condemnation, confidence He is through this time conforming us to His image, confidence He will raise us.
Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory in our Lord Jesus Christ.