Jesus and His Gentle Victory
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Colossians 2:15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Since it was Easter Weekend, I felt I needed to watch "The Passion of Christ" again. It still gets me every time. Especially the flogging. While I don't agree with 100% of what the movie shows, it's certainly an awesome description of the sufferings of Christ. I love those flashback scenes (e.g. when Jesus is walking up the hill with the cross, and it cuts back to him standing on the hill, teaching that you should "love your enemies". Unbelievable). And I love how Christ's character and His purposes are still being fulfilled in the midst of His suffering. (e.g. how Jesus' conversation with Pilate led him to discuss the most important question: "What is Truth?")
I love the movie, though I'm always hesitant to watch it again. It makes me uncomfortable, it makes me feel horrible. And then it makes me feel thankful again and leads me closer to Christ. It's strange. But I guess that's just how God works in us. Allow us to feel uncomfortable so that we draw closer to Him and receive His comfort.
Anyways, what gripped me the most this time watching the movie was the contrast between the works of evil and the works of good. I never realized how public Jesus' death actually was. Jesus was publicly humiliated in front of the whole city. When Jesus stood in front of Pilate, many, many people were accusing Him. When He carried the cross to Golgotha, the whole city was standing along His path. After the resurrection (before people realized that Jesus is alive again) two men asked Him an innocent question:
Luke 24:18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Are you a stranger in Jerusalem, and have not known the things which have come to pass there in these days?
So obviously, Jesus was crucified publicly, in front of the whole city of Jerusalem. Everybody knew that Jesus had been crucified three days prior. The forces of evil hung Him publicly, for everybody to see.
And then there is the twist in the story: 3 days later Jesus is alive again. But how does He do that? Publicly? Does Jesus do things the way the devil tried to do things? Does Jesus go up to the mountain for everybody to see Him? Does He stand in front of Pilate, arguing with Him? ("Hey, remember before you sent me to be crucified, you asked about Truth: What do you think now?") Does He stand up to the High Priest and demonstrate that He is stronger than them?
To be honest, that's what I would have probably done, sticking out my tongue, singing some taunting songs and enjoy their horrified faces. But not Jesus. He has a better way. He simply leaves an empty tomb behind. That's all. And then He has some short conversations with small groups of people. Around 500 in total. And then He just disappears, goes back to heaven.
That's all it took. 2000 years later, the evidence of Jesus' resurrection still leads many people to believing that it really happened. Most people with an objective eye agree that Jesus did rise again from the dead. They might not necessarily become Christians. But most people who do historic research on Jesus' life come to the conclusion: Jesus did indeed rise again from the dead. Not as a religious statement. Simply as a historic fact.
What struck me in this comparison between "how the forces of evil work" and "how God works" is just the different approach that the two sides take. The devil likes to shame, mock and kill people publicly. All evil wants is to screw us all in front of everybody else. The more people see the evil in this world, the better. So the devil is using all kinds of ways to "promote" his work.
Jesus' work however is happening quietly and gently. Jesus rose again from the dead without much attention. He simply did it. And He trusted the Father that the news of the event will spread out. And it did. Jesus was never seeking the crowds. He never promoted a "Special Healing Session" or "A great sermon that will be preached tonight." He simply went where the Father called Him to go. Jesus prayed. Jesus trusted the Father. Jesus was gentle. Jesus was available to people. But He didn't do His work the way most churches do today. He simply went into people's everyday's life. There He found them. Then He showed them who the Father is. And then came His famous invitation (whether He literally said these words or not): "Follow me!" So different from the works of the evil one.
Since this revelation I started wondering: What does it mean that "Jesus made a show of evil powers and principalities openly"? To me openly means "in front of everybody". Like what the forces of evil did when they killed Jesus.
But in Jesus' eyes, the term "openly" seems to have a different meaning. He simply remains faithful to the Father's word. And whatever the Father does, He also does. Teaching, Healing, Praying,... with small groups of people. No announcements, no "gather together as many people as you can", no show, no event, no fuss. Simply encounter people right where they are in their everyday's life.
And from there, let people come to their own conclusions whether they want to follow Him.
Now I'm certainly not against evangelistic mass-rallies. And I'm certainly not saying that we should stop having huge church gatherings. Those events are awesome.
But what I am saying is: Maybe we shouldn't ONLY rely on those huge, public events. Maybe what we should all do is return to a simple "day by day Christian life". Instead of putting all our hopes and energy only in the "once a year church outreach", maybe we should simply say: "You know, I'll pray for the lost people around me every day. And I'll simply try to build friendships with them. And I'll tell them that I'm praying for their needs. And I'll simply live differently, be honest all the time, ask God to help me to love people, etc." And who knows what that "quiet, faithful service in the secret place" will do over time. Maybe after a few months we will realize that God will honor such dedication and do things that we couldn't even imagine right now.
And maybe we will personally experience that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead also lives in us! And if we tap into His power and use it in His ways, He will release it.
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