The following article goes hand-in-hand with the sermon The Resurrection Gives a Reason given by Jordan Danser on 4/4/2021. If you enjoy the article and want to hear more about reasons to believe Jesus rose from the grave, or if you want to hear more about how powerful this fact is in our lives, please give this sermon a listen.
We are all very familiar with the story of the Trojan horse in which a group of Greek soldiers pretended to be offering a gift as a sign of their defeat to the people of Troy, but were actually tricking them. The trick was that the giant horse, was full of soldiers who used the “gift” as an opportunity to make their way inside the walls of Troy so that they could attack when their enemies least expected it. The Trojans thought that what they had gotten was a sign of defeat from their enemies. However, what they thought was proof of their victory, turned out to be a step in the process of their eventual demise.
When it comes to Jesus entering death through the unjust, brutal, and humiliating trial and execution, there are several entities that were like the Trojans receiving the horse full of soldiers. The Pharisees and other Jewish leaders, the Roman authorities, and the cosmic powers of evil were alike in that they appeared to have gained victory at Jesus’ death, when in fact they had merely taken the gift that led to their defeat.
The Jewish leaders thought that in the death of Jesus, they had— at the very least— gotten rid of the one that threatened their authority over the people, their traditions they idolized, and their conviction about what the Messiah was supposed to be. Perhaps more, they thought they had put a stop to any other person who might think to be that kind of threat to them again. They were certain their power had been secured.
The Roman authorities thought that in the death of Jesus they had appeased a crowd that might turn into an insurrection. They thought that by removing Jesus from the picture, the chaos and strife aroused by the Jewish leaders would come to an end, and thereby their rule and authority would be maintained without overthrow from the people beneath them or the rulers above them.
These two entities were sure that the death of Jesus, like the Trojan horse, was a sign of their victory. A sign that their authority would persist. The third entity in consideration is no different, but all the more significant in nature. Looking at Hebrews 2, and especially to the writings of Paul (e.g Colossians 2, Ephesians 3 and 6, Romans 8, and 1Corinthians 15), a grand and glorious picture emerges from the Scriptures concerning these cosmic powers of evil (i.e sin, death, the devil, and principalities and powers in heavenly places) and the death of Jesus. To understand the significance, we need to meditate on these Scriptures and take the whole narrative from the Old Testament into consideration.
Here’s the short version.
In the story of the Garden of Eden, humans, those in the flesh, were doomed to die because of their sin: because they gave in to the pressures of the evil one in the Garden instead of trusting their Creator. After this sad incident, the humans were promised by God their children would wrestle and fight with the children of the evil one, and this is seen in the dramatic imagery given to Cain in the very next story. God tells Cain that sin desires to have him. It is like a predator seeking to have Cain, his prey, but instead, Cain should rule over the sin. Does he? No. What is the consequences of sin having its way with Cain? Death. Death for Abel, and eventual death for Cain. Over-and-over again this same story gets played out. An evil beast arises to swallow up humans, its prey, and succeeds in doing so. An evil arises with the desire to assert its authority by creating division, chaos, ruin, and death in the world. Death is the ultimate goal of this evil, and it uses the weapon of temptation, ruin, and iniquity to reach its desired goal. However, back in the garden, the promise was given that there would one day be a human that would feel the pains of the evil one but would also have the victory.
The glorious picture emerges.
Through Jesus dying, it looks like sin and death have gained the victory. Through the death of the incarnate God, it looks like sin has become so strong in its hold over those in the flesh that not even God in the flesh can avoid becoming its prey. Through the crucifixion of the sinless Messiah, sin appears to still have the victory, the proof being Jesus’ dead body laying in a tomb. Through the unjustly tortured and crucified body of Jesus, the one who withstood the devil in the wilderness, appears to have at last been defeated by the devil. However, the awful result of Jesus’ trial and execution is not a sign of evil’s victory, but a Trojan horse. Jesus has gone into the belly of the beast, fully trusting in the Father and the Spirit that He would not be left there, but that he would instead be resurrected (to never die again), dealing a death blow to the one that had ruled over others with death.
The cosmic powers of evil were sure of their victory, but it was truly a sign of their eventual demise. Jesus went into death as a Trojan horse so that through the resurrection he could render powerless the one wielding the power of death to reign terror over others in the flesh. The ultimate oppressor was defeated, and that changes everything. The resurrection of Jesus is proof that God is dealing with and has dealt with evil. The entire story of human history is changed through the death and resurrection of Jesus because that one constant in history, death, is proven to be under new management, and this new management offers life. The new management offers new life that starts right now and is fully manifested in the resurrection of Jesus and in the end for all who give him their allegiance. If you wish to escape the chaos and terror and death that appears inescapable, Jesus offers the way out— turn to him. If you desire to experience true freedom and true life, the suffering and conquering Messiah is the way out— he is your only hope. There is no other way to escape the jaws of sin and death but through Jesus, the one who willingly endured the jaws of sin and death, so that all who are willing can experience salvation from the beast.