Thursday, November 12, 2020

Freed from the Devil by Jesus

The anonymous author of the Letter to the Hebrews writes to us about human beings as children of God: Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he [Jesus] himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery (Hebrews 2:14-15, English Standard Version).

God created Adam and Eve, and the rest of us human beings through them, as his children and with physical bodies. Having physical bodies meant that God created us with a definitive physical limitation: death. His original intention, however, was to graciously and continuously respond to this limitation by enabling us to eat of the tree of life.

When Adam and Eve ungratefully ruptured their gracious relationship with God, they frustrated this original intention. In response, God excluded them from the Garden of Eden and gracious access to the life-renewing fruit of that tree. Adam and Eve, and all (but two) human beings after them, then experienced death not as natural limitation but as penalty for sin. The devil then took unholy glee in making us his minions by threatening us with death.

This grieved God. He decided to save human beings from this dreadful situation. First, God the Son, wholly God from all eternity, chose freely in love to become a wholly human being as well. Without ceasing to be wholly divine, Jesus chose to have a completely human body subject to all the limitations of our own.

By being wholly human, Jesus could root out evil where it dwelled: in our old, false, corrupt way of being. By remaining wholly divine, Jesus could root out that old, false, corrupt way of being from all human beings simultaneously. He didn’t just set a good example for us. He died in place and on behalf of all humans past, present, and to come.

Through his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus was himself the last high priest because he offered himself as the last sacrifice necessary for the forgiveness of all sin. Nothing remained for us humans to do but to respond to this unimaginably gracious act of freedom and love by offering understandably grateful acts of thanksgiving and praise.

Jesus Christ destroyed the devil by decisively defeating him and dooming him to annihilation. For too long the devil, absurdly, has enjoyed keeping us enslaved. He’s done this by having his elite human minions, themselves unknowingly deceived by him, threaten one another and the rest of us in various ways with despair, destruction, and death. Jesus, however, no longer expects to see us shrinking from life out of fear of death. He triumphantly calls us today, separately as Christians and together as Church, to boldly reaffirm our freedom in him as one way of calmly refuting the long-empty claims of the devil to control.

Let us thank God that, even today and daily, Jesus continues to grant us the victorious graciousness we need to share the light of his truth, warmth of his love, and strength of his eternal life with everyone—even with evil minions who don’t yet realize Jesus Christ has set them free as well.

Copyright © 2020 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.