One of the difficult things about living on earth, I find, is that we are surrounded by groups and individuals competing against one another, but we don’t know who will win.
At time of writing, it is unclear who will win the Premiership Crown in football. Arsenal and Manchester City seem to be the likely contenders. But who will win? It matters a lot to some. Rivalries are like that. And coming second is like losing.
A scene of particular anguish at present is the war resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It is a terrible costly thing for those caught up directly. And it is a costly thing too for so many who are caught up indirectly, the vulnerable of so many countries who are struggling with refugees, shortages and price hikes. We wonder who will win the military struggle. Who’s will be the victory? And will it be soon?
The season of Easter is the time when it became clearer whose is the victory in the conflict between God and the evil one, Satan. The big issues were resolved in the human struggle with sin and death. The winner became obvious.
While the Church of England seems to be hopelessly divided on present issues in society, it is unclear which way things will go. Will those wishing to change the doctrine of marriage succeed? Will the Church of England fracture? And will the worldwide Anglican Communion split into two? The large growing African, Asian and South American provinces in one direction; and the small declining European and North American provinces in another?
We might wish we knew, if we are people who pride ourselves on being with the winning side, or if we imagine ourselves needing to be on the right side of history!
That is not how God sees it. Victory is not that straightforward.
Jesus’ death on the cross looked like a humiliating defeat. But it was his greatest victory, achieving the defeat of sin and death. We humans, with a bias to sin, need not fear death, if we put our trust in Jesus’ sacrificial death. Because of the cross of Jesus, we can share his victory.
Jesus’ resurrection from death confirmed the victory, and opened the way of life for all who follow the risen Saviour.
“Where O death is your victory? Where O death is your sting? But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
1 Cor. 15:55-57
The victory of the first Easter did not mean the imminent end of the war. Like World War II after D-Day, the fighting was fierce for a long period after. But the result was clear enough. Victory was assured, even through a further long period of struggle.
The victory of the cross and resurrection means Jesus is the winner. It might not look like it if you listen too much to commentators like the BBC. It might not feel like that if you continue to battle with sin and temptation in your own life. But that is the message of Easter: death does not win, Jesus does. The devil does not prevail, Jesus does. The world may be caught up in corruption and conflict, but Jesus has the victory.
This is no time to sit on the fence. Commit yourself to Jesus wholeheartedly, and you can know that your labour is not in vain.
With heartfelt Easter greetings,