So this week is the last week of my Daniel Fast. After today, I have just 3 days to go, and I am excited to share with you some of the things I’ve been learning along the way!
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (ESV)
And as I read that passage, I was struck by the first line “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” I don’t know about you, but I sometimes have a wrong view of God. When we think of Jesus, we think of a gentle savior, the one who took the children upon his knee saying “let the little children come to me.” This is the one we see on the cover of the children’s Bibles, with long hair and a soft smile, who preached love and turning the other cheek. On the other hand, when we think of the Father, we think of a stern judge who is holy, just, and unapproachable. He is the voice from the clouds in The Ten Commandments (you know the scene where Charlton Heston is on the mountain talking to God – I know I’ll be watching it again this weekend!).
But both of these views are missing the bigger picture and often give us a very wrong view of God. God is not at war with himself. There is not part of God that wants to crush us like bugs the next time we sin and part that wants to skip with us through fields of wildflowers for all eternity. Jesus isn’t having to stand in front of us to shield us from a beating, like a son standing up to an abusive father. Not at all!
Notice in this passage it is God the Father who gives us the victory over sin and death, and that victory is through our Lord Jesus Christ. The Father and the Son are working together in perfect unity and love to save us. The Father isn’t waiting in the wings to strike us down; he loved us so much that he was willing to sacrifice his own son for our deliverance. Way back in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve chose to disobey and rebel against God, he didn’t abandon them or strike them down and start over with people who had no free will, even though he could have done so. In his great love, he didn’t leave us in this sin-cursed, death-filled world without hope. Even knowing we would rebel and reject him, God still desired to save us from our own sin.
In Genesis 3 God says to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Here God is pointing forward to the virgin’s offspring, Jesus, the God-man, who would crush the power of sin and death and take the penalty upon himself, in accordance with the Father’s will. Jesus loved people, yes, but he hated sin. He calls the hypocritical religious leaders a “brood of vipers” and he overturns the tables of the money changers, saying they have turned his Father’s house into a den of robbers. All you need to do is read Revelation 1 and you will see that Jesus does not fit the images we have of him from children’s Bibles.
As we meditate on the significance of Easter, let us see God for who he is – both loving and just, strong and kind, holy and merciful.
Thank you Father for loving us so much that you would send your only Son to pay the penalty for our sins and reconcile us to yourself. Thank you Lord Jesus for taking on our sin, though you committed no sin yourself, that by confessing and believing we might be called sons and daughters of God.