|English: Icon of Jesus Christ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The political-religious establishment was sure it had won, because it had proved victorious over the One who challenged its power.
Mankind was sure it had won, because it had silenced the accusing Voice.
The Devil thought he had won, because he had killed the Holy One, his archenemy and nemesis.
But God, largely absent as an overt actor on Good Friday, knew he had won because what went down went down according to his plan.
The cross is a fascinating intersection of competing interests, all of whom, according to their own terms, thought they had "won". But on Easter Sunday, after Evil had thrown everything it had in the Son of God's face, God played his hand. He raised Christ from the dead.
A singular act in history. Trump card. Game over. God wins.
God took everything Evil had and triumphed over it. That, by itself, is an incredible message. But, there's more. He didn't just triumph over it; he used evil's power to effect his win. Because of the crucifixion of Christ, mankind in Christ had been justly punished for its rebellion; an acceptable sacrifice to God had been made. Now God could justly and freely forgive and declare innocent whomever he chose. As the apostle Paul put it, God proves through the cross to be both just, and the justifier, of those who trust in Christ. God used evil's power to destroy evil's power.
It wasn't just a win; it was a complete and utter rout. The message that God used evil to overcome evil is too sublime to be of human origin. It has the earmarks of the divine. It is worthy of belief.
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As humans we tend to think that the death of Jesus was the easy, natural, thing, and the resurrection the hard, spectacularly supernatural thing: Christ -- easy to kill; hard to raise. In fact, the opposite is true. Christ was sinless. He could not justly be put to death. God, who cannot perform an unjust work, needed some help. He needed injustice to do the evil work of killing Christ. And evil's malign intents played right into His hands.
In fact, the resurrection was the easy part. How hard could it be for God to raise up the divine, sinless One whom Scripture says death not only did not hold, but could not hold (Acts 2:24)? While the cross is the strange, if sublime, work, the resurrection is simply God being God, albeit an unparalleled display of his power.
There are two streams at work in human life. The stream of evil, sin, and death. And the stream of resurrection life. The person without Christ operates in the first stream only. The end-game is death. The Bible calls it "perishing". It's an end-game from which there is no escape. Apart from Christ.
The person in Christ operates in both streams. The power of the cross cancels sin, renders sinful human nature inoperative, and negates the devil's sublimely evil influences over our lives. But we also pivot to the new life offered in Christ. As Scripture puts it, if we were reconciled to God through Christ's death, how much more shall we be saved by his life (Romans 5:10).
Because he lives, we shall live also. At Easter, God won -- and so did we!