Christus Victor (The Victory of Christ) – Part 2

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them.—2 Corinthians 5:19Part 2

This week, I’d like to address what I consider to be the first facet of the Christus Victor paradigm. Remember from last week, this paradigm, rather than interpreting the Cross as somehow appeasing something within God, views the purpose of the Cross (and Jesus’ entire life) as “to destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8) Notice the event of the Cross itself was according to God’s purpose or plan. Where this produces not a few philosophical questions that need answered under the “punishment” paradigm of viewing the Cross, the following text about the physical details of the Cross becoming increasingly meaningful when you realize that God’s purpose or plan was to defeat the Devil.

“For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” (Acts 4:27,28)

“Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a Cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.” (Acts 2:22)

Again, notice the focus of intent in the following statement by Jesus regarding what God was up to in the death of Jesus:

“Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (John 12:31)

The Accuser claim’s to possess the dominion (to be the ruler) of this world.

“And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.” (Luke 4:5,6)

This was done in the decisions made in the garden long, long ago. Satan’s work is two-fold: 1) Corrupt our picture of God so that 2) we rebel against that “God” and follow him instead. And it worked! (See Genesis 3:1-6) Notice the way the Apostles and Jesus put it:

“The whole world is under the control of the evil one.” (1John 5:19)

“. . . the prince of this world . . .” (John 16:11)

“I will not say much more to you, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold over me.” (John 14:30)

The work of the Devil is two-faceted and therefore so must be his defeat. Jesus’ entire life was spent with this sole endeavor: not to appease an angry God so that we could be let into heaven—no, no—but to defeat the Devil and it would climax in Jesus’ death and resurrection.

He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I complete my mission.” (Luke 13:32)

Jesus knew full well what He was doing:

“When a strong man [the Devil], fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger [Himself] attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.” (Luke 11:21,22)

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? (Matthew 26:52-53)

Remember the first work of Jesus was to destroy the lies, concerning the Father, the Accuser had spread throughout humanity and which lay at the foundation of our “rebellion.” Remember, our rebellion was not like the Accuser’s. Our rebellion against God was based on a belief in God being something that God is not. It is one thing to know God and then rebel. It is quite a different matter to be deceived about the character of God and rebel thinking those lies to be true. All of us have been deceived. And it was toward breaking the power of this deception that Jesus first turned.

“He [Satan] is a liar and the Father of lies.” (John 8:44; cf. Genesis 3:1-6)

“Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, ‘Father, save Me from this hour?’ But for this purpose I came to this hour. ‘Father, glorify Your name [character/who you really are].'” (John 12:27,28)

“Jesus spoke these things; and lifting up His eyes to heaven, He said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify Your Son, that the Son may glorify You . . . This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do . . . I have manifested Your name [character / who you really are] . . .’” (John 17:1-6)

It was to manifest God’s glory that Jesus was first and foremost going to the Cross. God’s glory is simply His love put on display. And love would shine brightest hanging on a Roman Cross. But just what would the Cross reveal about God? Space here does not permit me to go into detail at length, but I would recommend going back and re-reading the eSight which began this discussion and the need for this current series of eSights dated January 31, 2012.

Remember, Jesus did not portray the Creditor in Luke 7 as going out and finding someone to pay the debtor’s debt in their stead. Rather, Jesus portrayed the Creditor as simply and frankly forgiving them their debt.

“And when they [two debtors] had nothing to pay, he [their creditor] frankly forgave them both” (Luke 7:42 KJV)

Some see the purpose of Jesus’ Cross as the means whereby Jesus could pay the Father for our sins. But a crude illustration of this kind of logic will suffice to show just one of the multiple philosophical questions this creates. Say you steal $1,000 from me. And my wife contacts you and assures you that she will take responsibility for what you have stolen. She assures you that she will pay me back the amount you stole. Then she takes our joint checking account, the account where she and I are financially “one,” and writes a check to me, in the amount of $1,000, places your name in the memo, and signs her name on the bottom of the check. She then rips the check out of the checkbook and hands it to me and says, “There. $1,000 repaid.” Because she and I are financially one, I still have not been “repaid” anything. I’m still out $1,000. Jesus said:

“I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30)

We are not to look at Jesus as doing something to the Father, but rather, whatever we see Jesus doing, we are to see the Father doing that very thing IN Jesus.

“Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in Me? The words I say to you are not just My own. Rather, it is the Father, living in Me, who is doing His work.” (John 14:10 NIV)

Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9)

This changes everything about the Cross. Ponder for a moment what you know about the nature of forgiveness. If 100 people steal money from you and you choose to forgive every single last one of them, how many people would suffer? Just one. And who would it be? Would it be those who had stolen the money or would it be YOU the one who is forgiving them for the money they stole? “But why?” someone may ask. Because whenever you choose to not count what those 100 people have done to you against them—when you choose to forgive them—what you are really saying is that you will simply bear their theft so they can go free.

When you choose to forgive, you choose to pay the intrinsic cost of letting them off the hook. In this case, it would be the total amount stolen by all 100 people. Ponder for a moment the nature of what forgiveness really is. Forgiveness means refusing to make them pay for what they did. However, to refrain from lashing out at someone—when you want to do so with all your being—is agony. It is a form of suffering. You are absorbing the debt, taking the cost of it, completely on yourself instead of taking it out on the other person. It hurts terribly. Dietrich Bonhoeffer put it this way: “Everyone who forgives someone bears the other’s sin.”

Now apply this to the following statement from the apostle Paul:

“God was in Christ [Christ was not doing something to the Father, nor was the Father doing something to Christ; rather the Father was actually in His Son in the events we see on the Cross] reconciling the world to Himself [Remember we were the ones who had rebelled against Him. We were the ones needing to be won back], not counting their trespasses against them [revealing that His heart toward them had always been one of Forgiveness]. (2 Corinthians 5:19)

Again:

“Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32) (emphasis added)

Suspended between heaven and earth, Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34). Jesus understood that being deceived is a valid basis for extending forgiveness. We do this for those around us every day, too. What Calvary reveals, in contrast to the lies of the Accuser, first, is that God is not the Tyrant demanding our punishment that He has been purported to be. In Fact, God has always been looking at the human race with eyes full of forgiveness. Let us note that God does not forgive us because of the Cross. He neither needed the Cross to move Him toward forgiveness nor did He need the Cross to allow Him to forgive us. No, God instead was at the Cross demonstrating His forgiveness.

We must also not limit God’s forgiveness to simply the event of the Cross. Rather, the Cross is a revelation to us of the forgiveness that has been in God’s heart toward us from the very inception of our rebellion. God’s attitude toward us has always been of forgiveness, for we did not know what we were doing. The revelation of God we get, when we allow the light of Calvary to dispel all of the lies of the Accuser, is that God looks like Jesus.

In Jesus, we do not see a God demanding the death of His enemies, but rather, we see a God dying at the hands of His enemies with a heart overflowing with forgiveness toward His enemies all the while. God is neither severe nor unforgiving. In Jesus, God is neither a harsh judge, nor an exacting creditor. The God in Jesus is a God of radical, indiscriminate, non-condemning, other-centered, self-sacrificial love. (I think I just heard the angels break forth in song.) If any of us are lost in the end, it will not be because we didn’t do enough to convince God to forgive us—it will be because we never believed how truly and genuinely, in the heart of God, we had been forgiven. “Believe not God is in your heart child, but rather that you’re in the heart of God.”

The Cross was not necessary for God to forgive us. Instead, the Cross was necessary to defeat and destroy the works of the Devil.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil.” (Hebrews 2.14)

Again, this is only what I consider to be the first facet of how Jesus was victorious (Christus Victor) over the Accuser. Remember, just revealing the truth to us would not be enough. Even if we did see our deception and repent, the Accuser would still (because we have “rebelled” against “God” and chosen to follow him) claim dominion over this world, including us.

“And he led Him up and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, ‘I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.'” (Luke 4:5,6)

“When a strong man [the Devil], fully armed, guards his own house, his possessions are safe. But when someone stronger [Himself] attacks and overpowers him, he takes away the armor in which the man trusted and divides up his plunder.” (Luke 11:21,22)

It was to defeat the Devil in regard to this second facet that we turn next week.

Keep living in God’s radical self-sacrificial love. Remember we wrestle not against flesh and blood. Keep building the Kingdom.

I love you guys.

Herb