The Special of the Day… From the Orange Moon Cafe…
"Winners and Losers"
A day came then the victor met his earthly end at the hands of the defeated. The strong died at the hands of the weak. The eternally blessed bid farewell to the present world, while the eternally condemned remained for a brief season.
"The time of my departure is at hand" (II Timothy 4:6).
We know the Apostle Paul to be the victor, the strong, and the eternally blessed. The Roman emperor Nero identifies as the defeated, the weak, and the eternally condemned. For all the world, it seemed completely otherwise. For all eternity, however, and even for their moment shared together in time, we see the conquered wield the sword upon the conqueror. A pathetic little man killed a man made vastly large by the presence of the infinite God in his heart. Yes, Paul won, even as he lost his life. Nero suffered a bludgeoning defeat, garnering unto himself an eternal judgment to come sorrowful beyond measure.
"In all these things, we are more than conquerors though Him that loved us" (Romans 8:37).
The cross of the Lord Jesus Christ even more reveals the power of God, as manifested in apparent loss and human frailty. "He was crucified through weakness" (II Corinthians 13:4). Again, for all the world it seemed His enemies had won, and He had lost. And again, for all eternity it will sound and resound that the Lord Jesus bruised the head of Satan, even as the devil bruised His heel (Genesis 3:15). Presently, God wins through weakness. "The weakness of God is stronger than men" (I Corinthians 1:25). He often allows foes to gather their forces, sharpen their weapons, and wield them against us. They gain an apparent victory, but when the dust of conflict settles, an empty tomb, an occupied Heavenly throne, and the Lordship of Jesus reveals a very different outcome. Indeed, in the conflict between Paul and Nero, who won? We know the answer, but we also know the victory of Christ, as revealed in the Apostle's sacrifice, did not appear at the time to be the outcome of the battle. "Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (John 7:24).
God's enemies often raise their banners of victory upon earthly battlefields. If only, amid the flapping of flags in ill and misleading winds, could they hear the Holy Spirit's pronouncement of who won. Yes, let the devil have his day, and his followers their brief celebration of a triumph that will soon be revealed as tragedy. Our God will be all the more glorified for having allowed devilish and earthly powers to put an apostle to the sword, and his Lord to the cross. The Spirit bears witness to the victory all the more glorious because it arose from the ashes of seemingly ignominious defeat. The Word of God echoes the same, and His church must bear witness that "crucified through weakness" resulted in resurrection and "the power of an endless life" (Hebrews 7:16). Yes, where we see defeat and the bluster of enemies, we do well to remember the constant refrain of the Spirit and the Word He inspired. In the throes of his victory, Nero lost. In the throes of their victories, the devil and his follower are losing. May nothing keep us from adding our voice to the witness of the Spirit and Word as they proclaim the tomb to be empty, the throne above occupied, and Jesus Christ is Lord.
"Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savor of His knowledge by us in every place."
(II Corinthians 2:14)
"Then saith Pilate unto Him, Speakest Thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify Thee, and have power to release thee? Jesus answered, Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above."
Weekly Memory Verse
He shall see of the travail of His soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall My righteous servant justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.