Thoughts for the Christmas Season: Part 3 Game On

December 28, 2021

Photo: Unsplash

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”” (Luke 2:13–14 NIV11)

The angels on the first Christmas declare to Satan and all that is broken and evil, “Game On.”

Three Game On Moments

Game on. And as the Game is on every confrontation, every battle ends with Jesus winning. Three “game on” moments. Two of them are from Luke 8, two stories that come one after another. First one: Jesus is in a boat crossing the Sea of Galilee. He’s fallen asleep, and a storm begins to kick into high gear. Those who know what water is all about know that this isn’t just any storm because water represents chaos in the ANE. It is that which battles against God, against life, against peace. So this storm is a picture of chaos, of evil seeking to do Jesus in. Jesus’ disciples panic, wake him up, he gets up and rebukes the wind and the waves, all is calm. Chaos and evil are defeated.

They get to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, and they meet a man who has a demon. In reality, when asked the demon’s name, the demon responds that his name is legion; an army of demons possesses this man. When Jesus gets ready to cast out the legion, there is a bit of bargaining, and Jesus allows the demons to go into a herd of pigs. The pigs then rush down into the sea and drown there. An army drowned in a sea. It is not the first time God has drowned an army in a sea, not the first time that one who fashioned himself a great ruler, a god-like ruler, ended up under the waves. As Pharaoh died under the waters of the Red Sea so this army of Satan dies under the waters. Waters of chaos that Jesus had just recently defeated.
Game on. Every time evil brings its best Game, every time Satan deploys an army; he is defeated.

The Biggest Battle

Then comes the biggest battle of all: the battle on the cross. Whoever wins this battle–well, Game over. But when this battle is fought, something happens. The great angel armies are sidelined. Jesus and his disciples are in the Garden of Gethsemane. The army of the leaders of Israel takes Jesus in. Peter steps up and pulls out his sword. Then Jesus said to him,

“Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so? (Matt 26:51–54)

Peter, I could call for 12 legions of angels and 12 legions of angel armies, but there will be no legions, no armies, no heavenly host this time. This time is Game on between me and all the evil that drags down this sad and broken world; this is Game on so that there can be peace to men. The Apostle Paul later writes about this Game on moment with these words,

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands.” This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them in him. (Col 2:13–15).

They Have No Game

The powers and authorities are disarmed, i.e., finally, they have no game.
Theologian Oscar Cullman, in his book Christ and Time, used an analogy from World War II to give us a good picture of where we are right now. D-Day was when the Allied forces landed in Normandy and established a beachhead. The strategizing generals on both sides recognized that the outcome of the war was decided on that fateful day in June 1944. They understood that if the Nazis had driven the Allies back into the sea, they would have won the war. But because the Allied armies prevailed at Normandy, they sealed the eventual doom of the Nazi cause. But between D-Day and V-Day—marking the surrender of the enemy and the Allies’ liberation of all of Europe—there’d be many months of suffering and struggle. There’d be horrendous battles as the Allied armies, little by little, pushed back the Nazi forces. The Cross and the Resurrection were God’s D-Day. God in Jesus fought and won the decisive battle. Although Satan is raising havoc, his power is broken, and Christ, through the church, is driving back the forces of darkness. God’s V-Day isn’t yet here. But because of God’s triumph on D-Day, we know how it all will end. Finally, the powers and authorities have no game.

Tomorrow: What Happens with the Powers have no Game?