And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
People love a come from behind win. There is nothing more exciting or dramatic in all of sports. You can see it all over the fans faces. They are already feeling the sting of defeat and then, at the last possible moment, their team starts to close the gap! With the clock winding down the last goal is scored and they win the game. At times it can seem almost miraculous. For many fans there is no sweeter victory and no more crushing defeat than a come from behind win.
We see this same type of drama unfold at the cross, except (as He is prone to do) Jesus takes it one step farther. Jesus doesn't nearly lose. By the world's standards he does lose. The whistle blows, the buzzer goes off. Game over. The Messiah has been crucified. Jesus has lost. The Adversary has won. The Devil and his demons dance with delight.
And yet, Colossians 2:15 teaches us that at the cross Jesus not only triumphed over Satan and his minions but He made a public spectacle of them. What seemed like Jesus greatest defeat was actually His greatest victory. What does this teach us about the Christian life?
Here is the spiritual principle for us. Spiritual victory always lies on the other side of some form of death. This is what Jesus reveals to His disciples in Mark 8:34-36
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?
The Christian is called to live not for this world, but for the world to come. This world has a different set of priorities, a different perspective, and different values than the believer does. You simply cannot "win" by the world's definition and gain the spiritual victory as well. Gaining a spiritual victory always requires you to sacrifice things that this world values. It always requires you to put to death your sinful desires. It always requires you to loosen your grip on this world as you reach out to grab hold of the next.
Before He could swallow death up in victory (I Corinthians 15:54-57), Jesus first had to give Himself over to death. It is the same for us. Before you can provide for the orphans and the widows, you must die to your desire to spend your time and money on yourself. Before you can win a soul for Christ you must crucify your fear of man, your desire to be held in high regard. You must be willing to be mocked and ostracized for caring enough about your faith to share it with others. Before you can help win a lost people group for the Lord, you must be willing to die to your personal American dream...you must be willing to move to that remote continent and give your life to sharing the gospel with them.
Spiritual victory always lies on the other side of some form of death. So how are you going to die today? What are you willing to give up for the kingdom? Before you answer that question consider the parable of the treasure in the field (Matthew 13:44) and remember the precious promise that no matter how much you give up, what you will gain in eternity far outweighs your sacrifice.