Sometimes, it’s tremendously awkward to read from one of the four Gospels, and then to conclude with the words “the Gospel of our Lord.” Case in point: today’s “gospel.” The word “gospel” is supposed to mean “good news”—but sometimes, you don’t hear any…
When we open the Bible, we’re hungry for good news in a world where bad news is pumped into our living rooms around the clock. One local TV network calls their newscast “eyewitness news”—and appropriately so. Tune in, and instantly you become an eyewitness to the suffering of humanity.
Today’s Gospel reminds us of what has been true since the beginning of time: that cosmic forces of evil are at war against God and God’s people.
Jesus had just been born. The Magi had just visited the infant and presented their gifts. But the time of joy and celebration is not to last.
King Herod learned from the wise men that the King of the Jews was born in Bethlehem. Herod is the King of the Jews (in the political sense)—which means that this newborn king will comprise a direct threat to the power and riches he enjoys from his throne. Consumed by greed and desperate to hold onto his power, Herod hatches a deadly plan.
Joseph is immediately warned in a dream of the firestorm of death Herod is about to unleash. So now Jesus and his parents are on the run—and precious, innocent lives become victims to human greed and cruelty at their worst.
Flash forward two thousand years later, and very little has changed in the world. Atrocities not all that different from this one are happening all around the world, every single day. Everywhere, there is wailing and lamentation, just as there was in Bethlehem so long ago.
And yet, in spite of the carnage he creates, Herod’s war against God is a total failure. God protects Jesus—and ultimately, it is Herod who dies. Jesus will go on to take his throne as the ruler of all Creation. Yet we all know that he will suffer the powers of evil to their fullest extent before he ascends to it. Jesus will suffer hell on the cross. But the cross will mark the beginning of God’s victory over all the forces of evil. The empty tomb shall forever be the sure sign, for all the world, that NOTHING will thwart the coming of God’s Kingdom and the reign of Christ.
What this means for you is that when the powers of evil wage war against you, the power of God will save you in the end.
Evil has its power—but God’s power is always greater.
When we are the ones who are wailing in agony in the aftermath of tragedy, we can take comfort in knowing that the power of God will be working in and through that tragedy to accomplish God’s gracious will for your life. The power of resurrection shall overcome the most heinous evil, the most horrific disasters, and the most deadly of diseases.
Not only that, the power of God is sufficient to overcome of the sin and its dreadful consequences. The devil’s greatest victory would be to snatch you out of God’s love—and that is why the enemy is so tireless in tempting you and luring you deeper and deeper into sin—until you would be completely alienated from God. But there is no sin that’s beyond God’s forgiveness—and there is no sinner who is beyond God’s power to be freed and reborn a new creation.
Finally, because evil’s power is no match for God’s power, we as the Body of Christ have the ability to fight back against all the evils in the world—and actually gain ground against them. We can crush the devil as we forgive sins; as we give generously of God’s generosity to us; as we meet our neighbors’ needs; as we pray; and as we give testimony to God’s mercy and love. We can build communities where there is peace and where the needs of all persons are met. Christian love and Christian witness will always put the devil on the run.
In God’s world, love always wins.
Weeping may last through the night, but joy shall come in the morning.
So remember—that no matter what you may be going through; whether it’s something terrible you’ve done or something terrible that’s happening to you, the power of Christ’s resurrection is upon you. Nothing is going to stop God’s gracious will from being accomplished in your life. The destroyer is going to be destroyed. And until that day comes, God will be faithful. If you believe and trust in Jesus, you will become an eyewitness to the power of Christ’s resurrection at work in your life, winning the victory over sin and all enemies, most especially death.
Fear not—God’s love always wins.