These days it seems that Christians are constantly on the defensive side of the spiritual war. If we zoom out, earthly life seems like a constant battle to fend off death and decay. We see it everywhere. In the wife simply trying to provide a safe and clean environment for her family by keeping the dirt and clutter at bay; in the husband going to work each day to keep poverty from overtaking his family; in the single parent, trying to do both; in lawyers defending life in court; in the military fighting our enemies; in the junkie fighting their addiction; and in the Christian fighting off temptation. In all of this where is our offensive line? Or am I looking at it wrong? Are we on the offensive and it’s the devil who is trying to keep us at bay? Seems to me if one side is trying to take a hill and the other side is trying to hold it things are going to look a little different, yet, the one on the bottom is the one playing offense and the one on top is playing defense.
” . . . the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28
Just look at Lord Jesus. There towards the the end He looked like He was down, yet He was getting closer to His goal. Lord Jesus was born for one objective: take the hill Golgotha. And look at how hard the devil tried to keep Him from accomplishing it: He was betrayed, false witness lied about Him, He was wrongfully convicted, scourged, rejected by His own people, mocked, a crown of thorns jammed onto his head, forced to carry a cross which would have driven the thorns farther into his head and constantly scraped the wounds on His back, had nails driven through His hands and feet, hung on a cross and ridiculed while slowly suffocating to death. Every evil thing that happened to Lord Jesus was the devil playing defense. It seems so horribly excessive? Why did the devil throw so much at Him?
One reason was because the end was near, so the devil was trying to hold Golgotha with everything he had in hopes of weakening Christ, making Him more susceptible to temptation. That’s how the devil works: he either goes after your weak spots or he waits until you are susceptible. That’s usually when you’re weak. Look at how many times the devil went after Christ during His short stay here on earth when He was weak. The devil made a play for Him in the beginning of His life when He was a small and weak by tempting Herod to order soldiers off to kill Him. The devil went after Him again when he tempted Him in the wilderness when He was weak from lack of food and probably feeling a little lost, if the ancient Hebrew people were anything to go by. Once again, this time through St. Peter, at the beginning of the end when Lord Jesus was heading towards Jerusalem and death. We know that was a temptation because not much later Lord Jesus prayed that He wouldn’t have to go through all that suffering. The final temptation came at the end of His life when He had been weakened by betrayal, ridicule, shame, physical agony and, probably, mental anguish.
There’s no doubt in my mind that the devil was whispering temptations in His ear the entire time of Christ’s passion. When His people were calling for His death, “They hate you. They don’t want you. Why put yourself through all of this?” When He was too weak to carry the cross on His own, “It’s not worth it. You can’t do this.” When He fell, “Give up. Stay down. Call your angels down from heaven.” When He was on the cross, “You’re the Son of God. Save yourself” And probably, hundreds more times and thousands of different ways. And at each step as Lord Jesus was getting weaker I’m positive the temptations were getting stronger.
It’s truly a testament to not only His commitment and faithfulness to God, but also of His great love for us. Christ’s passion was not just one of physical stamina, but mental fortitude and resolution of will. For all of that, He died in the end. By worldly standards He would be considered the one that was playing defense and He lost. By worldly standard it would appear evil won. But the game wasn’t what the world thinks it was, they weren’t aware of who was playing offense and who defense, and down is not out.
to be continued . . .
Original post photo provided by Ben White @Unsplash