“In this way, He disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by His victory over them on the cross.” Colossians 2:15
Easter arrives on our calendars and prayerfully rocks our hearts in a couple of weeks. I love high church traditions and worship services during this time of year: the stations of the cross, the observation of self-reflection during Lent, the remembrance of all that Jesus suffered on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday while joining believers together to receive the Eucharist. Then the culmination on Easter Sunday of the elation of the resurrection and forgiveness of sin.
As this sacred time of worship approaches I think about the theme in April at Sacred Story: Boundaries. The definition of boundary is: “a limit of a subject or sphere of activity.” If the curtain could be pulled back on the invisible realm during the last week of Jesus’ life we would see a host of activity. I think about the ministering spirits of God known as angels who fight to sustain the Son of God. (Hebrews 1:14) In the same breath, the forces of darkness called demons bent on destroying the Anointed One. (Ephesians 6:12) God’s limitless power limiting the sphere of activity in the spiritual realm to accomplish His purposes. Ponder with me these fateful scenes.
Upon being arrested, Jesus reminded Peter who attempted to use his sword to fight the Roman soldiers, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword will 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 26:53) In other words “A TON!” A typical amount of men in a Roman legion ranged from 3000-6000. Jesus limited the angelic realm from rescuing Him out of His destiny.
After being sentenced by Pilate to death and punished by beatings with a whip – 39 lashes is the projected amount – Jesus was ordered to carry His cross on his back of ripped flesh to Golgatha, the place where criminals endured crucifixion. (Matt. 27:31-33) The demonic realm pressed in to put Jesus to death before He made it to the cross and yet God intervened by providing Simon of Cyrene to carry His cross. I am confident angels assisted in this exchange.
While hanging on the cross Jesus endures verbal abuse from the soldiers and the crowd. No doubt driven by the forces of darkness who are working through the sin nature of rebellion revealed in the soldiers and crowd as they (we) respond to His suffering and humiliation with anger. Jesus is belittled and His authority is mocked. Drawing His last breaths He proclaims, “It is finished!” before giving up His spirit. The soldiers break the legs of the other two criminals to speed up their deaths but when they came to Jesus He is already dead so they confirm by piercing His side with a spear. (John 19:32-37) This fulfills the prophecy, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.” (Psalm 34:20) and “They shall look on Him who they pierced.” (Zephaniah 12:10) God limits the activity of the evil one in the timing of Jesus’ departure from His body and the way His body is treated by the soldiers.
God exercises limits when it comes to the invisible realm to bring about His eternal purposes. In the horror of the events preceding the resurrection it looks like the spiritual forces of darkness won. Yet Jesus delivers a crushing blow through His death and resurrection. Are you in a battle where you feel like God has the power to fight for you and it seems like He is not doing so? A health condition, a marital struggle, a workplace difficulty, a financial disaster. God oversees the sphere of activity in the spiritual realm for reasons we may never understand. Consider the story of Job! Take heart, sister, if you are depending on Him and there’s not a rescue to the battle, there is a greater YES. God’s children never ultimately lose a battle- even in death. **Read Jennifer’s story about triumphing when it looked like failure was imminent