By his stripes we are healed
By his nail pierced hands, we’re free
By his blood we’re washed clean
Now we have the victory
Death could not hold you down
You are the risen king
Seated in majesty
You are the risen king
Recently we introduced a new song by Todd Dulaney, The Anthem. The song is about God’s plan to save us and conquer Satan, sin and death. It also highlights the storylines of the gospel that seem like irrational oxymorons. For example, look at the verse.
When was the last time you really thought about how confusing the gospel is at first glance?
Healing comes from beatings.
A prisoner sets people free.
Blood washes away sin.
Life is lost to win the victory.
Who would’ve ever planned to save the world like this? I would expect a God who is so sovereign and powerful to just blink and completely obliterate all his enemies, but that’s not the case. His sovereignty is even greater than that. God uses the weight of his enemies against themselves, a cosmic judo flip. Don’t get me wrong, there is a cosmic fight between good and evil going on, but this is not a fair fight.
Ever since the beginning, God loved the world and planned to save it, and Satan has been trying to thwart it. All throughout the Old Testament we see Satan trying to wipe out the family tree that the savior was to be born into using everyone from Pharaoh to Haman to Herod. Then Jesus finally shows up and Satan tries to use the Jews and the Romans to actually kill Jesus, and God lets him do it!
However that was all part of the plan. We were so bad that Jesus needed to die for us. It was the only way. Justice has to be paid, so he stepped into our place. He took on the weight of sin and death we deserve so we don’t have to, and then he rose from the dead so that death would have no more power over us. Jesus quenched all the wrath that was meant for us, so that we would never feel it.
God doesn’t just use the weight of his enemies against themselves in the gospel. He does it in our lives every day. God uses the weight of our struggles to strengthen us. James 1:2-3 tells us to “count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” We are to see suffering as a joy. He’s not denying the pain and strain of trials. If we were to stuff our pain and pretend that trials didn’t hurt, we’d never find this joy or the strength of faith that trials can produce. It’s like working out. We submit ourselves to the blood, sweat, and tears so we can test our strength and make it grow.
God’s new mercies each day doesn’t always look like God getting us through suffering and gives us a nice comfortable life. Sometimes he does, but often times the suffering is God’s mercy. God disciplines whom he loves and uses the weight of suffering to humble us and draw us closer to him. God puts us right into suffering on purpose. None of it is pointlessly cruel and in the end, He’s coming back to put suffering to an ultimate and final end. This is not a fair fight.
This month is never easy for me. It marks the anniversaries of some of my closest friends and family members’ deaths over the last 10 years. I also know, as a church, we’ve felt the weight of Satan, sin and death more and more just in the last year. The pain is real. We’re meant to feel it. This may all seem completely backwards, like everything is going completely wrong, but none of it is out of God’s plan. Let it hurt, so long as it pushes you into God. None of it is pointless. It’s all being used against itself to bring us more joy in knowing God’s love more than we would ever know. This is not a fair fight.
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