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  • Father David M. Knight

Loser Takes All

News flash: Loser Takes All

Matthew began his Gospel by telling us the mission of Jesus was to do five things. As “Son of David” he

offers us fulfillment. As “Son of God” he makes us divine. As “Jesus” he “takes away” our sins and makes us a “new creation” as his body on earth. As “Emmanuel—God with us,” he continues to be God’s human presence among us until the end of time. And as “Universal Lord,” he came to gather the whole human race together into one under his headship.

Next he warned us that the mission of Jesus arouses conflict. Encounter with Jesus calls us into the triple crisis of faith, hope, and love.

Now he tells us that Jesus triumphs. The way Jesus wins, however, is by losing. He shows his strength through weakness. He refused to use divine power to destroy his enemies. And so he died defeated on the cross. But his defeat was his victory, and by his death he conquered death and brought life to the world. He continues to give life through the weakness and defeat of his followers (John 16:23; Romans, chapters 5 and 6; 2Corinthians 4:7; Revelation 12:11).

Anyone who joins Jesus in the battle against evil must accept the principle, “Loser takes all.”

We proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength… God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong (1Corinthians 1:23ff. Read the whole chapter).

Jesus triumphed first by his first recorded act of weakness. The angel told Joseph, “Take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt.” Joseph did. And God used it “to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son’” (Matthew 2:15).

When Herod died, the angel appeared to Joseph again in Egypt and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.”

The angel was not just reporting a fact; he was declaring a principle. Anyone who opposes Jesus is already dead, whether visibly or not. Jesus by definition is life.

He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people (John 1:2).

And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent (John 17:3).

So those who oppose Jesus are already dead by definition; it just hasn’t become visible or final.

Again God used weakness in the face of power to bring about what he had predicted:

Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream… he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He will be called a Nazorean” (Matthew 2:21).

God even used the weakness of Jesus as a proof of his divinity! When Jesus was on trial before the Sanhedrin, the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

Jesus answered, “I am; and ‘you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of The Power,’ and ‘coming with the clouds of heaven.’”

In the context, claiming to be Messiah was claiming to be God. God had let Jesus be handed over to his enemies. No divine power was protecting him. But Scripture said “By this I know that you are pleased with me; because my enemy has not triumphed over me” (Psalm 41:11). According to popular understanding at that time, this proved Jesus could not be the Messiah.

So when Jesus, although obviously abandoned by God, still claimed to be the Messiah, he was saying that he needed no divine affirmation. He was the Messiah by nature; that is, he was God.

That is when the high priest tore his garments in sign of blasphemy and declared him deserving of death (Mark 14:61).

In his human nature and consciousness, it was by faith that Jesus knew he was Messiah. We need to have a faith as absolute as his. Whether we see signs of his power or not, we need to believe that he has triumphed and is triumphing just because of who he is. We do not believe Jesus is God because he is victorious; we believe he is and will be victorious because he is God.

All this is in the book Why Jesus?, chapter eleven: “Jesus Is Victory.” Now we will pass to the second book on Matthew’s Gospel, A Change Within, which begins with John the Baptizer calling us to conversion. Both books are available on the website on paper for purchase; electronically for free by clicking on the image to the left.

Question: Do you believe absolutely that Jesus has won, is winning, and will win? Does this strengthen you to work without discouragement to transform the world by the power of your weakness?

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