Epiphany means “making known.” The first Sunday of Epiphany always begins with the baptism of Jesus. For it is here where we get, not only a true sense not only of who Jesus as God himself declares, “You are my Son,” but also an affirmation of what he did and was about to do, “With you I am well pleased.”
Following God’s words, Mark states, “And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan.”
The battle is on! As the birth account of Jesus found in Revelation points out, this is the ultimate battle – the entire cosmos is on the line. If Satan defeats Jesus, Satan wins. If Jesus defeats Satan, God wins. And to the victor in this case goes ALL the spoils – and part of that “spoil” is you and me.
We know that in that forty day battle, Jesus withstood Satan, but we also know that was not going to be the end of the battle, it was only the first battle of the war. Luke, in his Gospel, writes this at the end of the temptation account: “When the devil had finished every test, he departed from Jesus until an opportune time.” – The war has just begun. //
But Jesus walks away from the battle with a confidence that is astounding, considering he had to have some inclination that in order to save the world, he would have to die for it. Jesus returns home and begins his public ministry this amazing way: “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The LORD’S favor. Jesus is bringing forth God’s kingdom. Satan’s kingdom is being not only attacked, but it is being conquered. And if there is any doubt that was what Jesus was saying by choosing that passage of Scripture, we are told that after he read the passage, he then delivered his first sermon, a short nine word sermon: “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The battle for the cosmos’ future and your future is on – and Jesus has EVERY intention of defeating the powers that have been defeating us for centuries.
Sometime back Dr. Eddie Fox was commenting on the fact that after many years of oppression and domination, the Communist system of government collapsed in country after country. He said that soon after the Communist government collapsed in Czechoslovakia, a small church in Prague put out a sign that said the following: “The Lamb Wins! The Lamb Wins!”
Often we fear the future because we look at what stands in front of us and we think that those objects are too big for us to handle. You are absolutely right, many of them are, if you feel you have to face those situations, temptations and trials on your own. BUT YOU DO NOT! Jesus is with us. His coming into this world changes everything. His power, his word, his blood makes us no longer the “spoils” of the battle, but ones who battles along side God to make sure the blessing of life are secured for us all.
We enter the future knowing three things: the cross did not stop Jesus, death could not hold him down, and in the end Satan will be cast out of the cosmos forever.
There is now great hope and joy awaiting us ... in our once feared future.
The Lamb wins! And because he does, we win, too.
~ God bless, Dan