After a pretty spectacular start to His ministry – the voice from Heaven and all that (Luke 3:21,21) – Jesus embarked on a rocky road. Forty days and nights starving in the desert with just the devil to keep Him company (Luke 4:1-13), a lynch mob in His home town (Luke 4:28,29) and then years of being criticised, tested, plotted against.
If we’d had to walk His path you and I, perhaps we would have retreated to the relative safety of the carpenter’s shop where we’d grown up, and consigned ourselves to the easy option.
Maybe that’s why so many people don’t have victory in their lives … because they’re not prepared to go to the dangerous places where we win victories.
No battles, no victories right?
Maybe in the face of attacks and opposition and setbacks and a lack of approval from other people, we’d have withdrawn to a life that wasn’t our calling to live. A life that God never planned. A life of comfort and safety. A life pursuing our own pleasures rather than God’s will.
Am I being a bit too harsh? I don’t know.
I think sometimes we think that serving God is all about winning – serving God is all about having success. Serving God is about meeting our needs. But the more I see of Jesus’ life, the more I see of His brand of victory, the more it seems that His victory had very, very little to do with any of those things.
The religious leaders came after Him with a meat clever because He was upsetting the status quo. He was preaching blasphemies. He was eating and drinking with tax collectors and prostitutes. He was healing people – can you believe it – on the Sabbath.
How dare He? And then, to top it all off, He declares Himself to be the Lord of the Sabbath!!
“Something … something has to be done about this dangerous heretic” they murmur.
“I know,” – says one of them – “let’s have Him killed. Let’s play the system and get Him crucified. That’ll do it. Jesus loses, we win.”
That’s an all too simplistic, all to common view of victory. The world’s view. Our view. Victory is when I win. Right?
But listen to Jesus on the subject of being crucified:
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father. (John 10:17,18)
So when it comes to living a life of victory, for Jesus, it’s not about avoiding the Cross. Victory for Jesus is not about winning in the sense that you and I might think about winning. If we were in His shoes, wouldn’t we be trying to pretty much save our own skin?
Victory for Jesus is doing what He came to do. Victory for Jesus is doing His Father’s bidding – laying down His life voluntarily and then taking it up again. Victory as it turns out – has little or nothing to do with winning. It has everything to do with living out the call of God on our lives.
In pursuing victory, Jesus put no premium on His own life, His own needs and His own comforts.
Victory was not to be found for Jesus, huddled over His tools in the safety of dad’s carpenter’s shop in Nazareth.
No – victory was to be found on the Cross, as He laid down His life for you and me, so that our sins could be forgiven. Victory was to be found in the empty tomb as God’s power raised His Son to bring you and me a new life.
Victory for Jesus was all about – completely about – what He did for His Father in Heaven and what He did for you and me.
It had nothing whatsoever to do with what He did for Himself.
Which is why you have to conclude that victory and winning …. are two entirely separate things.