The Contender – A Celebration of Our Freedom
The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:26
Crown – dfn. a reward of victory or mark of honor especially : the title representing the championship in a sport; a royal or imperial headdress or cap of sovereignty : diadem; imperial or regal power : sovereignty. (Source: Merriam-Webster)
Today is the Fourth of July. Known as “Independence Day’, today we as a nation set aside time to remember and celebrate freedom and liberty. On July 4, 1776 the 13 American colonies officially declared freedom from England’s rule and separation from Britain’s Crown, a freedom which eventually led to the formation of the United States of America.
Crowns signify honor, power, sovereignty, dominion and victory. On this Independence Day we are not only remembering the fight to cast off a political crown leading to freedom, but also the spiritual fight over the conquering of another crown – Death’s Crown and freedom to receive a Crown of Life. Let’s take a look.
The Ring & The Fight
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 1 Corinthians 15:21
The fight originated long ago. It was a fight destined before time began between the two contenders (Gen 3:15). In one corner was the champion. He held the title and wore the victor’s crown – The Crown of Death. His earthly name is satan (Job 1:6-9 & Rev 12:9) and his heavenly name was Lucifer (Is 14:12). It was not planned to happen this way. But, because of deceptive and unscrupulous tactics (Gen 3:1-5), he stole the title away from the intended victors of life (Gen 2:7-8, 2:15 & 2:22-25). This fighter carried with him the baggage of a bad reputation (Is 14:13-14) and was known as a ‘dirty player’.
In the other corner was a fighter of a totally different caliber, demeanor and composure. In fact, he looked like no contender for any crown at all (Is 52:14 & 53:2-3). His name was Jesus the son of a carpenter (Mat 13:55 & Mk 6:3). The reigning champion in fact thought it most humorous that such a contender would even dare him and bring him to this level of humiliation. He jeered, he laughed, he mocked and he cajoled at the prospect of being challenged, much less defeated, by such an embarrassment. But, he did not realize who he was dealing with (Is 7:14 & Lk 1:30-33). And he would soon find out.
And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!
The opening bell rang, its shrill reverberating throughout both time and Eternity. The fight began. Out of one corner of the ring one contender emerged with vengeance. His blood burned, his countenance fumed like a dragon (Rev 12:3, 4 & 7) and the corner of his lip dripped with saliva fueled by lust, greed and flesh-like ambition (Mat 4:1-9). In his mind he relished the thoughts:
“This is one fight the world will never forget. This fight will go down in history as MY fight – The Fight of the Ages. The day I finally put to rest the notion that I can be reasonably challenged or it even considered that I can loose my crown, my crown of dominion of life on earth. My victor’s crown of Sin & Death”.
However, something else happened at the opposite corner. Viewed from a distance, the scene was so extreme and macabre it appeared almost in slow motion. “What is going on?” the paying crowd thought. This other contender appeared to not want to fight at all as he walked towards the center of the ring with his fighting gloves down and fearlessly face the impending onslaught. It was as if he wanted to loose and hand his opportunity over without resistance (Joh 10:15, 17-18 & 15:13).
His opponent wasted no time. Pound. Jab. Pound. Pound. Jab. Jab. He did quick work. And it was almost over sooner than he expected, leaving behind a scene almost too horrendous to describe (Mar 15:19-20.
The defeated opponent seemed barely able to stand upright in the ring. His body now weakened and frail. Seeing victory inevitable, the reigning champion decided to end this match with his most lethal tactic. It was the most painful and shameful weapon in his arsenal. It was what he called ‘The Stretcher’. The stretcher was brought out to carry away his challenger and end the contest (Mar 15:21-38), a contest seemingly not fair from the beginning (or at least the observers thought it was!). In fact, this final act caused the judge to observe something he had never before experienced in all his years working the ring – a fatal knockout. And after seeing what he just observed, he was not sure he wanted to see another one.
A Miraculous Comeback
News of the contest was abuzz and quickly made its way throughout the country (Luk 24:13-19). But, news of something else had captured the people’s attention. Sometime between carrying the contender to his grave and his body being ‘officially’ corrupted after being dead four days, it was reported he was walking around ……… Alive ! (Luk 24:36-41) It could not be. But. it was. He was alive (Rom 6:9).
When the reigning champion received news of his being raised back to life, it struck fear and terror in his spirit (Mat 8:29). His best effort, his most pointed assault failed to finish the work. He did not finish it, his opponent did (Joh 19:30).
Disqualification Leads To Exultation
In every war, in every battle and in every earthly conflict there are rules of engagement to be followed. There are governing bodies in our world that monitor war crimes and crimes against humanity. Why? Because even when humanity is faced with the possibility of annihilation, it intrinsically seeks preservation. It is a nature designed by God. A nature that seeks life, seeks hope and seeks truth. The Lord is running the ship in Heaven and in earth and not the enemy. Truth prevails and truth never fails (Deu 32:4, Ps 57:10, Ps 89:14, Ps 96:13, Ps 146:6, Jn 8:32, Jn 14:6 & Jn 17:17).
Because satan did not follow the rules of engagement (truth) he disqualified himself from the contest (Jn 8:44 & I Jn 2:21). The earthly judge’s decision was ultimately nullified and the crown stripped from the former champion.
The Crown of Death was removed from the Head of the Serpent, and in its place, the Crown of Victory was placed on the Head of the Savior (I Cor 15:54-57). Jesus now gives us freedom over death, wields the Crown of Eternal Life and graciously gives it to those love him (Jam 1:12 & Rev 2:10).
Crown Him. Crown Him. Crown Him King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. Revelation 6:2I
And I saw, and consider this, a white horse. And he who is seated upon it has a bow. And there was given to him a victor’s crown. And he came forth conquering and in order to conquer. (Wuest)
Happy Fourth of July!
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