The Suffering, Conquering Christ

Imagine you and your entire family have been abducted and taken to an island deep in the ocean. All you can see are the waters all around. None of you are good swimmers, so swimming isn’t an option. At the same time, your abductors have their eyes on you. They have watch towers with sharpshooters holding M21s, ready to shoot at anyone who dares to escape. On the ground, they have pit bulls patrolling. Your best bet is to have someone come from outside to save you, someone stronger, with a strong military and an excellent strategy. You pray and wait. Eventually, someone comes, but he has neither an infantry of soldiers nor a weapon in his hand. He ends up getting tied to a chair (just like you are) and doesn’t even resist the abductors’ attacks on him. In all this, he still asserts that he has come to save you. Would you believe him? Would you trust any word that comes from his mouth?

The Jews, for about 600 years, had lived in such a situation. They had been captives of the Persians, the Greeks, and the Romans. Under such circumstances, they began to yearn for a rescuer, one who would conquer their captors and take away all their misery. From Genesis, it was foretold that the saving King (Messiah) is such that he will be a ruler of all nations and from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). In 2 Samuel 7:12-13, the prophecy speaks of a king who will establish his kingdom, and rule forever. Isaiah 35:5-6 prophesied a king who would take away the pains and sufferings of the people and give them prosperity. Isaiah 61:1 says that the King would bind up the brokenhearted, proclaim freedom for the captives and release the prisoners from darkness. At around 4BC, when Jesus was born, the entire Israel was a colony of the Roman Empire. They were at the mercy of Gentile rulers. Then more than ever, they needed the prophecy of the conquering King to be fulfilled. They needed a King who would set them free from the hands of the Romans. 

Yet, instead of having a large army, Jesus comes into the scene as a harmless baby. He lives a humble life and has no home (Luke 9:58). He walks around with a group of twelve men, his disciples, comprising fishermen and one tax collector. They were not men of war. But Jesus confidently claimed to be the Messiah, the conquering King (John 4:25-26). Many of the Israelites were disappointed and did not, some even to date, accept that Christ was the Messiah. 

Jesus, the Conqueror 

Jesus came to conquer. However, we must understand that he didn’t come to conquer everything we want him to, but that which his Father in Heaven wanted him to conquer. For he came to do the will of God (John 4:34), not that of man nor his will (John 6:38). All that he did was for God (John 5:30). 

It was not our will for Jesus to come in the first place, but the will of God. His assignment to conquer meant that he would have to do the will of God perfectly. Therefore, for the world to know that Jesus loves the Father, he did all God commanded (John 14:31). 

Jesus Conquered Sin

It was the will of God that Jesus would come not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). Christ indeed came and obeyed God even to his death. He was the glory of God on the cross as he gave himself up for us, to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:13-14). By his death on the cross, Christ conquered the power of sin on behalf of all whom he redeems by his blood and who come to him in faith. Without Christ, we are dead in sin, slaves to it, following the prince of the air, the spirit of disobedience, living in the passions of the flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind (Ephesians 2: 1-3). But when we believe in Jesus, we are no longer hopeless in sin since his blood has redeemed us from the power and bondage of sin.   

Jesus Conquered Death

God’s will was for Jesus to come and die in the hands of sinful men, then rise from the dead. Jesus is the only person in the history of humanity who died, was buried, raised from the dead, and has never died again (Acts 2:23-24). In the beginning, there was no death. But when Adam and Eve sinned, death came to the world. It was God’s punishment for sin (Genesis 2:17). Jesus not only came to conquer the power of sin, but he also came to conquer the punishment of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23). Christ conquered sin by resurrecting from the dead in accordance to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). Christ, who was in the same kind of body as you and me, died and rose with a heavenly body (1 Corinthians 15:40). He thus fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 25:8 and Hosea 13:14; he swallowed death in victory, and so we can stand with Paul and mock O death where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? (1 Corinthians 15:55). Those in Christ now have victory over death, and we owe it all to God through Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:56-57). If you believe in Jesus, you will not die the second death. We can be confident that eternal life awaits (Revelations 21:8). 

Jesus Conquered the Devil

It was God’s will that Jesus would come to conquer the devil and all that is of him (1 John 3:8). Christ, therefore, had to come in the form of flesh and blood so that through his death, he could destroy the one who had power over death, that is, the devil (Hebrews 2:14). It would have been a work in futility if he conquered the sting of death, which is sin, death itself and not the one who held the power of death. Therefore, we shouldn’t fear the impact of the devil on our salvation or overwhelming the will of God in our lives. Jesus has conquered the power of the devil!

The Suffering Christ 

To conquer the power of sin, the penalty of sin and the devil, Christ had to suffer as if he was the one who sinned. Christ suffered the penalty he didn’t deserve for our sake (2 Corinthians 5:21). Isaiah foretold Christ’s gruesome suffering about seven hundred years before his birth in Isaiah 53. He spoke of how humankind would reject and despise him, a man of suffering and familiar with pain. Christ indeed took up our pain and bore our suffering. He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. He was oppressed and afflicted like a lamb to the slaughter. Yet, he didn’t open his mouth (Isaiah 53:3-6). The Passion of Christ movie attempts to show how brutal the Romans were to Christ. However, it’s still nowhere close to correctly portraying the pain and suffering he endured at the cross. 

Christ, because of his endurance at the cross, has inherited a name that is above any other name (Philippians 2:9). He is raised and highly exalted (Isaiah 53:13). After having offered a purification for sins, he is now seated at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3). Because of his suffering, we can now say that we are more than conquerors through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37). Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God (1 Peter 3:18). Praise God that we are more than conquerors through Christ because he was willing to suffer.

It is a dreadful thing to fall in the hands of a living God (Hebrews 10:31). But Christ suffered in the hands of God to avert God’s wrath from all who believe in him. It is one thing to suffer here on Earth; it is another to suffer in hell, eternally. So, believe in Jesus today and have your eternity secured in him (Hebrews 12:14). 

Reference

https://africa.thegospelcoalition.org/podcasts/tgc-africa-podcast/the-suffering-servant-the-necessity-of-jesus-death/

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