Jesus’ Spiritual Warfare during His Passion

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Jesus’ arrest, trial, and crucifixion put on display a rampant and unrestrained unfairness and cruelty that is hard to understand apart from demonic influence.  The night of Jesus’ arrest, the Jewish elders—men respected for their dignity and leadership—degenerated into madness as they spat on my Jesus, blindfolded him, and beat him.  “Prophesy,” they commanded. “Who is the one who hit you?” they said one after the other (Luke 22:64).  Next, the Romans whipped him mercilessly.  Rather than eliciting compassion from them, the bloodied and battered man served as the plaything of an entire battalion of soldiers.  They found a purple cloak and dressed his body in it; they twisted together some nasty thorns into the shape of a crown and put it on his head.  Mocking and laughing, they each took turns kneeling before my Jesus and saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews” (John 19:3).  Their insatiable cruelty still unsatisfied, they whacked him in the head with a reed, driving that thorny crown deeper and deeper into his scalp.  Even once Jesus finally reached the place of the skull, he was not given any respite from their spiteful viciousness.  Once crucified and hanging on the cross, his life ebbing, his blood dripping, his body dying, he was not left alone by the onlookers.  The passersby, rather than feeling compassion for this poor man, wagged their heads and said, “Ha!  You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save yourself, and come down from the cross!” (Mark 15:29-30).  The chief priests, their vindictive rancor still unabated, shouted out, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.  Let this Christ, the King of Israel, now come down from the cross, so that we may see and believe!” (Mark 15:31-32).  Even the man crucified next to him hurled abuse at him and mockingly asked, “Are you not the Christ?  Save yourself and us!” (Luke 23:39).  Throughout the scene, we observe unmitigated hatred mixed with malicious brutality far beyond what makes sense from a natural perspective.  What we have here is not something explicable on the basis of human psychology but the result of ruthless demonic forces pulling the strings not only to kill but also to gloat over Jesus’ slow agonizing demise.

Again, I ask why did Jesus have to endure such a nightmare?  Satan’s wild and uncontrolled rage against Christ blinded him from grasping God’s redemptive plan (1 Cor 2.7).  In the end, he neither reviled the mockers nor threatened the torturers but died trusting in God (1 Pet 2.23).  Jesus did not crack; he did not give in; he did not falter.  With the torrent and flood of malice and cruelty aimed at him, like a sponge he absorbed it all.  Steve Chalke puts it this way:

On the cross Jesus took on the ideology that violence is the ultimate solution by “turning the other cheek” and refusing to return evil for evil, willingly absorbing its impact within his own body…Just as a lightning-conductor soaks up powerful and destructive bolts of electricity, so Jesus, as he hung on that cross, soaked up all the forces of hate, rejection, pain and alienation all around him.[1]

Never did he lose control of his mind, his emotions, his pride.  In the end, his death did something; it changed everything.


 

[1] Steve Chalke, The Lost Message of Jesus, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003), p. 179.

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