By Submitted Article on December 14, 2019.
For this Christ came
Third of four parts
Jacob M. Van Zyl
When we stand in awe at the manger of Bethlehem, beholding the promised anointed Saviour as a new-born baby, we may get so sentimental that we forget what his coming was all about: “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).
Peaceful Baby Jesus and a fierce war with the forces of hell seem so far apart that the two are almost irreconcilable. However, the apostle Paul had no illusions about the purpose of Christ’s incarnation: “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
The apostle John saw in a vision the heavenly perspective on Christmas: “The dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her child as soon as it was born” (Rev. 12:4).
The peaceful Christmas scene of Mary, Joseph, the Baby, shepherds, angels and wise men, soon changed to the gruesome child massacre ordered by the devilish King Herod. The Holy Family escaped just in time to Egypt. When Herod’s life was cut short, they returned to Nazareth, where Jesus grew up as son and apprentice of a carpenter. It would not have bothered the devil if he remained just that.
Jesus started his public ministry with baptism in the Jordan. The Father affirmed, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” Following this high point, he was tempted by Satan, who sneered, “If you are the Son of God (as God said), command these stones become bread” (Matt. 3:17, 4:3).
Satan’s three temptations were blocked by the sword of the Spirit, the word of God. Starting his ministry this way confirmed the purpose of his mission: to destroy the works of the devil.
Six months before his crucifixion, Jesus’ brothers, who did not believe in him at that point, sarcastically urged him to go to Jerusalem and do his tricks before the leaders of the Holy City. Jesus retorted that it was not yet his time. He added that the world hated him, because he testified that its works are evil (John 7:3-8).
The idea of “sweet Jesus” is not entirely true. When we read the gospels with open minds, we see a Jesus who often used harsh words and strong language to make his point. He told the world that its works were evil. He chastised the Pharisees for their hypocrisy. He drove out demons from their tortured victims. He said that people can’t be his disciples if they don’t pick up and carry their crosses.
He destroyed the works of Satan.
Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.