Standing Strong in the Victory
Written by: Meredith Miller
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When Jesus had tasted it, he said “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
- John 19:30 (NLT)
One of the first stories small children learn in Sunday school starts like this: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1 NIV) God created everything and all living creatures, and then, in his own image, man and woman, declaring after each new creation: It was good!
Genesis 2:2 tells us, “By the seventh day, God had finished the work he had been doing…” (NIV, emphasis mine). Once God creates man and woman, He declares His work completed. But then the first of humankind go and make a mess of the “good” that God created: Eve was tempted by the serpent to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, she convinced her husband Adam to join her in eating the forbidden fruit, and ultimately God banished them because of their sin from the perfect garden He created.
Here entered in the need for a Savior. It is a need that has never vanished, though time has stretched on from that first fateful mistake of humankind. What always strikes me about this part of the story is that God had created the plan for salvation before He created one star in the sky or one fish in the sea. He knew that His human creation would need a Savior, so our Creator God made a way before He did anything else.
In today’s passage from John, we read of Jesus’s crucifixion, including some of His last words before His death. What appears to be a line of defeat to non-believers and Satan himself, is actually a signal of another creation story as Jesus achieves victory for those who believe in Him: “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’ With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” - John 19:30 (NIV)
In today’s culture, this looks like the end of the story. We look at the scoreboard and see our team being crushed 63-7, so we mutter, “Welp, they are finished.” We see it as a no-win scenario, and that is precisely what Satan saw as Jesus gave up his spirit. There was no way God could win now that Jesus was dead.
However, what Jesus declares here is not His own defeat. He is declaring the mission He was sent to do is complete, finished. He has achieved God’s terms for the salvation of His people, and through these words He is victorious! God brings the story back to the garden so that He can create new life for all believers. John tells us in verse 41 that “at the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.” (NIV) We no longer suffer under the curse of Adam and Eve who were banished from the garden! Jesus’ death is our victory over sin, and therefore we are a new creation in Him!
But we still have not reached the end of the story. Though the first battle over sin has been won through the sacrifice of Jesus, we know that we still battle Satan’s temptations everyday as God waits to fulfill His plan for the ultimate victory over death. In her Bible study God of Creation, Jen Wilkin brings this creation story full circle with Revelation 21:1,6: “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and first earth has passed away… He said to me: ‘It is done.’” (NIV) Our Creator God still has more to create when Jesus comes back in final victory. He will put an end to all of our battles with Satan, and we will have the final victory as we enter this new Garden for eternity.
We cannot walk this earth without battling our human instinct to sin. If we face that fight without seeking God for strength, we will lose the battle. But if we stand strong in the victory we have in Jesus, we will defeat the enemy over and over, until our Savior has the ultimate victory and welcomes us into His new kingdom forevermore.
1. What battle are you facing here on earth that you need victory over? Ask God to give you His strength to fight it victoriously.
2. How does knowing that our Father God created His plan for salvation before He did anything else make you feel as His created child?
Heavenly Father, thank You for the victory we have in Jesus! As our Creator God, You have made a way for us to have new life in You. While we await Your return, help us to live in victory over the battles we face on earth until we can rejoice upon entering your new Kingdom. In Your Son’s Precious Name, Amen.
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