Summary: Behind the scenes of Jesus' death, there was a war going on...
Today and Thursday, we are going to get a behind the scenes look at the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Listen to these verses from Revelation chapter 12: 7 And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. 8 But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. 9 The great dragon was hurled down-- that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. 10 Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ. For the accuser of our brothers, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down.
Behind the scenes of the crucifixion, there was an all-out war going on. The story of Jesus dying on the cross isn’t just the story of a man who made the Jewish authorities mad. And it's not just the story of the Roman government unjustly crucifying someone on a cross. There was a lot going on behind the scenes, an all-out war between the forces of evil and the forces of good. Satan and his angels were bold enough and proud enough to think that they could defeat God himself. After all, look at the Son of God – he’s dying on a cross. God must not be that strong after all.
But the Devil was not strong enough, the Bible says. Is the Devil strong? Yes he is. He was strong enough to tempt Judas to betray Jesus, he was strong enough to tempt Peter to deny Jesus. He was strong enough to get the Jewish authorities to arrest Jesus, and he was strong enough to get the Roman governor to torture Jesus and execute him. Behind the scenes of the crucifixion, there was great evil, as the Devil lurked in the shadows, causing all these bad things to happen. He is strong enough to lead the whole world astray, verse 9 says.
But he's not strong enough to win, the Bible says. You know how the story ends. Jesus rises from the dead. The Roman soldiers guarding the tomb run away. The Jewish authorities make up a story that covers up Easter. The whole world is not just led astray – the whole world is also forgiven, washed clean of all of its sin, and that includes you and me.
There was a war in heaven when Jesus died on the cross, and it wasn’t even close – Satan lost, and Jesus won. That great dragon the Devil was hurled out of heaven and to earth, and today heaven celebrates with words that might be familiar to you – “Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ.” To put it more simply, Jesus rules, right now. He rules the world. He rules heaven. And he rules the Devil. And the reason Jesus rules is because he has taken all of our sins away and has risen from the dead.
Sometimes today it looks like the Devil is winning - evil is so prevalent in our culture today. Christianity is becoming less and less respected. Materialism, narcissism, me-ism really, this is what dominates our culture. The Devil's influence is strong in our world today. Just like it says in Revelation - he's leading the whole world astray. But he's not strong enough. As we look behind the scenes today, we see that the Devil is the ultimate loser, and Jesus is in control behind the scenes. Very soon, we will celebrate the forgiveness and hope that Jesus brings to us at Christmas. For unto us a child is born. Salvation unto us has come.
We pray – dear Lord Jesus, thank you for giving us a glimpse of what was happening behind the scenes of your death and resurrection. Let this be our source of confidence and joy, knowing that you have taken our sins away. Amen.