“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” from The Art of War
Why was the Jewish leadership during the days of Jesus’ earthly ministry so troubled by Him? Why did they reject Him as their Messiah?
His claims were clear. His miracles provided sufficient evidence that He was indeed the Messiah. But neither of these convinced the Jewish leadership. To them, Jesus was an imposter. He was not fulfilling their job description for Messiah. He had to go.
What was their problem? They did not know the enemy.
Their Messiah was to sweep in, knock Caesar off his throne, defeat the evil Roman Empire and establish Israel as the pre-eminent nation in the world. But Rome was not the enemy. Their enemy, a trio of adversaries to be exact, was far more sinister and cunning. Satan, sin and death comprised this axis of evil and it was them that Jesus came to defeat.
The Jewish leadership of Jesus’ day missed this critical truth. They missed it because they did not know themselves. They were blind to their lost condition, the fact they were dead in sin like everyone else in the world.
They needed a savior and redeemer. They needed a deliverer. They needed a king who knew the enemy and could defeat him at every turn. They needed Jesus. As to the art of war, none can compare to Him. In one crushing blow He defeated Satan, sin and death.
- As for Satan and his band of demons, Jesus “disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Colossians 2:15 (NIV)
- As for sin, Jesus “appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26 (NIV)
- As for death, Jesus “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” 2 Timothy 1:10 (ESV)
Jesus knew the enemy, the real enemy of our souls. Jesus’ work through His death and resurrection brought the dominion of Satan, sin and death to end for us. Makes me wonder. Should we look at the cross as the work of a suffering servant, or of that as a conquering king? We’ll take a look at that question next time.
For now, I’ll end with this. Recognizing the real enemy of our soul’s frees us to rejoice in Christ’s victory at the cross and to live as more than conquerors in our daily lives.