When our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified, there was a certain glee among His enemies, for in their minds they had accomplished their goal of being rid of Jesus. But as the Passion history suggests, they could not rid themselves of the nagging thought that perhaps what He said was true. Perhaps He would rise from the dead. They concocted a cover for their uneasiness by suggesting that the disciples would come by night and steal the body of Jesus, saying that He had risen from the dead. They prevailed upon Pilate to post guards at the tomb.
Unbelief is as delusional as it is fearful, for Jesus rose from the dead!
Our God is not the Author of evil, yet He uses the evil of the fallen world to bring His purposes to pass just as He wills. To the accomplishment of His purpose He permits the ungodly to presume success. Wickedness and unbelief seemed to prevail, but Jesus rose from the dead. He accomplished the redemption of the world and restored life and immortality. Our Lord is not vindictive. He desires the repentance of all—and that all should have life in Him. But neither is He One with whom to trifle: “He who sits in the heavens shall laugh. The Lord shall hold them in derision” (Psalm 2:4).
In Messianic Psalm 8 we read, “For You have made Him a little lower than the angels…” (v. 5). Hebrews 2:6-8 verifies that this is a reference to Jesus who, taking the form of a bondservant, “humbled Himself and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:8). This humiliation was not imposed upon Him by His enemies, for He willingly permitted His enemies to take Him (Luke 22:51) and bore the ignominy that He might accomplish the purpose for which He came—namely, to bear the sins of all and pay the penalty we deserved.
Christ’s humiliation served a purpose in the Father’s plan that His foes could not know. They mocked and ridiculed Him at the cross, but again He bore it and ultimately was exalted as He was crowned with glory and honor by the Father who “made Him to have dominion” and put all things under His feet (Psalm 8:5-6). As God and Man our Lord rules over all things in heaven and on Earth.
That is significant for us who believe, because we have been graciously incorporated into the body of Christ. As members of His body we are co-rulers with Jesus over all things! Though now we are in the weakness of our mortal body, beset by affliction and sorrow, and put upon by the evil world about us, yet our real status as rulers with our Lord shall be revealed when we are translated from Earth to heaven.
We need not recount the evils that the world visits upon God’s people, but we want to remember that even the evil and the attacks made against us as people of God are only for a while. The world rejects the grace of God and mocks those who believe the “foolishness” of God, but evil will not prevail against all who trust in the accomplished victory of our Lord Jesus. As surely as we are in Christ, we shall prevail (as Luther wrote in his Reformation Battle-hymn, TLH #262), and even death itself cannot rob us of the kingdom.
In the life of Christ on Earth things were not as His enemies perceived them or hoped they would be. So today what the enemies of Christ’s Church—which is His Body!—perceive and hope only feeds their delusion.
In our Christian walk and confession we ourselves can identify with the Apostle Paul: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed–always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body” (2 Corinthians 4:7-8).
Or as Joseph told his brothers, the evil which they visited upon him was meant by God to bring about a salutary purpose (Genesis 45:3-8; 50:20). The devil could not win then; all appearances to the contrary, he cannot win now! Christ our Strength and Stay has won for us the victory. We shall conquer in the strife if we do not faint. It remains the Father’s good will to give us the kingdom!
Thanks be to God, who is “our Refuge and Strength, a very present Help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1)!