Over the past five weeks, we have looked at the idea that God always leads us into Triumph over every situation in life. We began our look by exploring 2 Corinthians 2:12-17. In verse 14, we are told this:
“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.”
Paul tells us via the leadership and superintendence of the Holy Spirit that God, our Heavenly Father, always leads us in Triumph IN JESUS. And in us, we defuse the smell, the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. We will explore this more next week. We will explore how you and I can leave a testimony of God and Jesus in every place simply based on how we view life and the trials and tests that come.
We looked at three different Bible characters over the last few weeks:
Joseph was hated by his brothers, and they actually plotted to murder him. But God, who was watching over him, sent a caravan at that time to buy him as a slave and preserve his life so he, in turn, could preserve the lives of the very men who tried to kill him.
Then we looked at Job, a man whom God allowed to be attacked by Satan; this man lost everything but his life. We do not know how long he suffered, but his life was completely destroyed by Satan. Then he had these friends who came to make his life even worse. But God preserved him, and in the end, Job got back twice what he lost. God gave him back ten more children and the apologies of the men who had berated him.
Then last week, we looked at Samson; we explored how God can bring us into Triumph even when we are our worst enemies. Samson was that guy; nevertheless, he did his job, he did what God called him to do, and in Hebrews 11:32, he is called God’s servant.
But what if these all happened to the same man, the same person? What would happen if one man had his family hate him and plot his death, had Satan attack him repeatedly, and had his friends betray him and give up on him? What if the pain was just piled on? Could God bring that man into Triumph? We will explore the life of Jesus, and you probably know the answer already.
- His Brothers Sent Him to be killed, John 7:1-5
“After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. 3 His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. 4 For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ 5 For even His brothers did not believe in Him.”
We are told in Matthew 13:55 that Jesus had 4 brothers that were born to Mary after He was born. He also had at least 2 sisters. Two of his brothers would become New Testament writers, James and Jude. But at the time of John 7, we are clearly told in verse 5 that his brothers were not believers.
In this passage, they, knowing that the Jewish leaders wanted Jesus dead and encouraged Him to go and show Himself openly in Jerusalem during the feast. Go and show yourself publicly (verse 3), and stop doing these things in secret. Let the world see you. Hopefully (if one can infer from the text), the Jewish leaders will kill you.
Jesus’ own family hated him. They wanted nothing to do with Him, and in fact, wanted Him dead ASAP. I cannot imagine what that is like, and for the most part, neither can any of us. My siblings and I have had spats, and some of us are not that close, to be honest, but I cannot imagine them plotting to kill me or encouraging me to go where I can be killed. I certainly have not plotted to kill any of them.
The animosity here is huge. We do not know what happened to the other two brothers, but Jude and James saw the light and became servants of their brother. We kind of get an eye into the kind of household that Jesus grew up in, one seemingly filled with hate. This kind of action that we see in John 7:1-5 does not just pop up at the spur of the moment. It was the result of a brewing hatred that finally spilled over. But Jesus loved his brothers, both the ones who came to Him as their Savior and the ones who rejected Him. He died for them and their sins just like He died for you and me.
God brought Triumph out of this very situation, and we can find peace as ministers and pastors. We learn that, at times, just like Jesus, your own family will be your worst enemies. They won’t trust you and like you, they’ll have a hard time following you as a spiritual leader, and at times there will be turmoil in your own home. But simply obey the Lord and let the chips fall where they may, and God will bring about the Triumph.
Yes, two of His brothers came to see the truth, and one, James, was the actual Elder of the church at Jerusalem and was martyred for the name of His Brother/Saviour. Jude pens a short but powerful epistle encouraging us to fight for the faith, to stand for what is true and right, and not to tolerate the watering down of the Gospel that his Brother/Saviour died for. The legacy of these two men will live on forever in the Bible to show us what God can do even when your family is your worst enemy.
- Satan attacks Him to his face, Matthew 4:1-11
“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. 3 Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, ‘If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ 4 But He answered and said, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.'” 5 Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, 6 and said to Him, ‘If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written: “He shall give His angels charge over you,'” and, “In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'”
7 Jesus said to him, ‘It is written again, “You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'” 8 Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. 9 And he said to Him, ‘All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.’ 10 Then Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! For it is written, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve.'” 11 Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.”
Satan attacked Jesus relentlessly. When we read the end, “the devil left Him,” we often think that this fight was over. But no such thing should be considered. The idea of the text is that the devil left Jesus for a time. Satan came back often and attacked Him over and over, even using His disciples like Judas to betray Him. Jesus was under constant spiritual attacks from all around. The devil had him on his turf, so to speak, and he was going to make the most of the opportunity.
Satan began when Jesus was young, sending Herod’s soldiers to kill the kids under 2 years old in Bethlehem, then we explored the hatred in Jesus own household in the last segment. Satan knew Jesus’ address, and he camped out there. Over and over again, Jesus had to defend that He was God’s Son and here to save the world from their sins. Jesus, as we can see here, was tempted in all the areas that we were; the lust of the flesh (food), the lust of the eyes (the kingdoms and riches of the world), and the pride of life (God will send angels to save you).
These are the only three areas of temptation; all temptation falls into one of these three categories. But God brings us into Triumph because Jesus is our helper, He knows what it is like to be tempted, and He has promised to be there to help us (Hebrews 4:14-18).
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Jesus knows, not in a theoretical kind of way but by firsthand knowledge, what it is like to be tempted. He knows what it is like to be hungry and see food but has to say no because of the source, not the food. He knows what it is like to see what you know will be yours, the Kingdoms of the world, but have to wait for God’s timing, and He knows what it is like to have God’s protection but not to show off and provoke God. He knows. He knows. This is the Triumph we have in Jesus; God made sure that we have a High Priest, Jesus, who lived in this frail dust house we call a body, and he experienced hurt, hunger, fatigue, dust, thirst, and on and on we can go.
Jesus knows. He is our advocate that can speak from experience when defending our frailties to the Righteous Judge and willingly forgives our many, many failures. Oh, what great Triumph we have in Jesus!
- Peter Denies Him to His face, Luke 22:55-62
“And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them. 56 But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, this man was also with him. 57 And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not. 58 And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not. 59 And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilean. 60 And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spoke, the cock crowed.
61 And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. 62 And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”
Often, when we talk about the betrayal of Jesus, we immediately have the name Judas come to mind, and it should. He did betray Jesus for 30 pieces of Silver. But Judas, the Bible tells us, was a lost man. He was never saved, and Jesus knew that. Peter, on the other hand, was a true believer. And if you read the text that precedes what we are considering, he drew his sword to take on the entire Temple Guard seemingly by himself. But here we are not long after, and he is accosted by a woman, a young girl, and a nobody man simply warming themselves by a fire, and he denies even knowing Jesus.
This denial was done to Jesus’ face (see verse 61). This was not done in some closed room, some secret place, no. Peter denied Jesus in public and to His face. He denied the man who helped him walk on water, healed his mother-in-law, denied the God who took him up on a mountain and showed him Moses and Elijah, proving eternal life was real, and he denied the God he swore to defend to the death just a few hours earlier. He did not deny Him after hours of torture and pain; no, he denied Him in front of people that could not hurt him; just the crowd.
How many times have you and I denied our Lord and Saviour? We lived in such a way or spoke in such a way, treated people in such a way that we denied Jesus? How many times have we had the chance to share the Gospel but walked away or kept silent for fear of embarrassment or retribution? I have. I am guilty of all this, and yet, just like Peter, Jesus loves me. He loves you as well.
God brought about a great Triumph about 50 days or so later. This same Peter would preach and see 3,000 saved and baptized. He would heal a lame man and lead the church in Jerusalem to do amazing things to spread the Gospel from Jerusalem to the known world and them to us in the ‘New World.’ Peter led the charge once Jesus went and got him from fishing once again in John 21. Jesus came and got Him. Jesus put him back as the leader; yes, the one who denied Him.
This is the Triumph we have in Jesus. His grace and His love are greater than our (my) many failures. Jesus restores us when we fall, even when we fall hard. Jesus did not give up on Peter, and He will not give up on you and me. As leaders, we have this hope that we can fail, and Jesus can still and will still use us. Don’t quit on people that Jesus is still using. We have a tendency in the Lord’s churches to ‘write-off’ people that God is not done with yet. God will bring the Triumph when He is ready. The Triumph is His and His only. We get to be there to celebrate and bask in the greatness of our God.
God is not done with you. God can take every circumstance in your life and bring about a great Triumph. No matter your issues at home, your issues with your own weaknesses, and your issues with your friends. And when you betray your friends, yes, even when you betray Jesus, your greatest friend, God will and can use you for His glory and bring about a great Triumph in your life.
Don’t give in, and don’t give up. God is not done.
God bless you,
Dr. Sean Gooding
Pastor of Mississauga Missionary Baptist Church
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