The Victory of Jesus
When it comes to seeing Jesus Christ as victor, there are two ways we can go. And depending on which way you go it will have a systemic impact on how you view Jesus, the gospel, yourself and mission. The first is characterized in the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Aslan the lion (who represents Jesus), in a beautiful picture of the gospel, offers himself to the Witch (Satan) in exchange for Edmund, a traitor child (us). Aslan dies at the hand of the Witch, and then resurrects the following morning. Inherent in this story is the concept that Aslan died to ransom the captured Edmund from the Witch, who had rightful claim to his life. Theologically, this is called the ransom theory of atonement, and it's view is that the price of your ransom was paid on the cross to Satan, not to God. In other words, the victory Christ achieved on the cross was first and foremost over Satan to free you from his grasp.
This second view is the satisfaction theory (or penal substitution), which proclaims Christ’s victory was primarily over sin, and the price of his sacrifice was paid to the Father. Although there was a victory over Satan, death and the world, sin is revealed to be the greatest problem. And this is important for us, for if we view the cross of Jesus Christ as simply victory over Satan, we will never fully accept responsibility for our sin (because we don't think it was/is the problem) and will instead take on a somewhat of a victim mentality, where sin will always own us and we will never utilize the grace we’ve been given to fight it. We’ll also never be able to take hold fully of the confidence that purification provides. Confidence, in my opinion, is a theological truth to be taken hold of, not a character trait you may or may not have. Because of Christ’s victory we should all have confidence as sons and daughters to enter His presence, knowing we are righteous, absolutely absolved of all sin.
Although central, sin was not the only thing Jesus triumphed over in the cross. Colossians 2 clearly shows how Jesus dealt with our sin and in the process put to “open shame” the powers of this world, i.e. Satan. This “open shame” is a term used to describe a Roman victory procession, where the opposing king and his soldiers are paraded though Rome. Jesus through the cross not only achieved victory over sin but Satan as well, for God shows that Satan cannot stop God’s plan of salvation and is powerless to oppose him. Also, in the resurrection of Jesus we see His victory over death. We have no reason to fear death, for we have already been spiritually regenerated and one day will be physically resurrected. Death no longer has power over us. This is what Paul means when he says “to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21). In living we proclaim the gospel and serve Jesus, and in death we get to go home to him. This is true freedom! Lastly, in the final battle to come we see Jesus’ victory over the world. Jesus will come and God will drop fire on the earth, over all who oppose him (Revelation 19 and 20). Since we know He will overcome the world we have confidence to go forth and proclaim His gospel.
"If we understand Jesus saves those are hostile to him we should have no confusion about the city or neighborhood in which we’ve been placed."
Lastly, there is one aspect of Christ’s victory we rarely talk about. We often think of Jesus Christ's victory over sin, Satan, death and the world but we hardly ever think of Christ's victory over us. Although it is true that Jesus rescued us, it is just as true that He rescued us against our will, for "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8) and “you were dead in your trespasses and sins in which you once walked... but God... made us alive together with Christ” (Ephesians 2:1-2,4,5). It's easy to forget how when we were still deep in our rebellion, Jesus through the Holy Spirit overwhelmed all of our defenses and laid claim to us. And it was that moment of understanding how our former enemy (God) died to save us we were transformed. It has to be noted that Jesus’ victory over us will have huge impact on our missiology (how we view mission), for if we understand Jesus saves those are hostile to him we should have no confusion about the city or neighborhood in which we’ve been placed. To be uncomfortable or disliked or even feel like we’re fighting an uphill battle should be viewed as normative, because we are. But, if we know Jesus won victory over us we should also know that he will one day win victory over some of them. So we never give up. We never stop presenting the life-changing gospel to those who are outside, because someone never stopped presenting that life-changing gospel to us.
And at the end of the day salvation is Jesus’ victory alone to achieve, not ours. If you or I could be the ones to convince people through incredible words that they need God, God would get no glory and we would have no reliance upon him for our mission. But since we are not the ones who can save people, we faithfully preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified and pray to the One who already has victory over all things to have victory over them as well, for there is no one else who can save but Him.