Victorious in Defeat

Did ever man appear so hopelessly lost, so completely put to naught, so utterly defeated as our Lord in the hour of his suffering and agony on Calvary? His enemies had triumphed over him. He was forsaken by his own, condemned by the Church, sentenced by the worldly judge. There was no one to defend his cause. He had been mocked at and filled with reproach, beaten and buffeted and spit upon, scourged and crowned with a crown of thorns. And finally he had been led to the place of the Skull. And there “they crucified him, and two other with him, and Jesus in the midst.” John 19:18. He is numbered with the transgressor, exposed as a criminal, in fact, as the chief of them, as public enemy number one! And even so, his enemies know not pity. And all that are present and watch this dreadful spectacle, as well as those that pass by—the chief priests and the people, the soldiers and even the malefactor that were crucified with him—mock and jeer and taunt him, sarcastically challenging him to deliver himself and come down from the cross, thus contributing to and bringing out in bolder relief the picture of utter helplessness and defeat he presents. And does not God himself set his seal of approval upon this execution of judgment by men? For darkness envelops the cross, and soon from the darkness the terrible cry of utter amazement is heard: “My God, my God, why has thou forsaken me?” Was ever man so utterly forsaken by God and men, as this man Jesus as he is hanging on the accursed tree?

But hark! The crucified one speaks once more! He complains of thirst, but the note of amazement that was in his voice a moment ago is gone. And again he cries out. And is there not this time a note of triumph in his voice? Is not this next to the last cross utterance an announcement of victory? “It is finished!” he shouts. And in the consciousness of having finished all, he now beckons death to take his earthly frame, and commends his spirit into the hands of the Father. Surely, this is not the death of a defeated man. He appears to be in perfect control even of the moment of his own death. And in the hour of what seems to be his utter defeat he announces the victory: “It is finished!” And while men slink away from Golgotha smiting their breasts and admitting defeat, God from heaven corroborates with signs and wonders the shout of triumph by his Son on the cross. Indeed, the moment of Christ’s utter defeat is the beginning of his glorious victory! He is victorious even in his defeat!

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*This section was taken from the beginning of Chapter 7: Victorious Defeat in the book When I Survey by Herman Hoeksema.

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The Prince of Peace

The Prince of Peace!

Wonderful!

Magic name in a world of woe and turmoil!

Wonderful name, indeed, in a world torn by war, bleeding from a thousand wounds: The Prince of Peace!

Small wonder that even they who know Him not and understand nothing of the peace He came to bring are spellbound by the charm and magic of that name, and every Christmas season speak of Him and sing the praises of what they conceive to be the Prince of Peace! They catch the exquisitely soothing music of the name and they taste the heavenly gift wrapped up in that name, and the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, a world of righteousness and peace.

Seeing they see; hearing they hear.

Yet they do not perceive; still they fail to understand.

They use the name; they reject Him! Their rock is not our Rock; their Prince of Peace is not the Christ of the Scriptures.

He, the Prince of Peace, is characterized by peace in all His appearance, mission, work, and dominion. To establish peace He came into the world. To rule in peace forever He labors and toils and battles and suffers and goes down into the nethermost parts of the earth. For, peace He came to establish, peace indeed. Not the superficial peace that is created by conferences or courts of men, by treaties that are signed, by pacts that are sealed and that are broken by them that make them; but true, real, essential peace He came to create. Quite impossible it is, indeed, to bring peace in the relationships between men and nations, where there is no peace in the heart; and quite hopeless is the expectation of peace in men's hearts, as long as there is no peace with God! 

The futility of the attempt to establish peace where there is no peace the world has demonstrated in late years more clearly than ever before. For peace they longed, and war was dreaded. Of peace they spoke in speech and song and discussion around conference tables. Peace palaces were built. Peace conferences were held. Disarmament agreements were attempted. Peace treaties were signed. A league of nations was established. Yet, there was never a time in which the world was so full of greed, hatred, distrust, and war, as our own. They speak of peace, peace, where there is no peace!

Peace is a profound spiritual reality!

It is a matter of the heart. It presupposes and is rooted in love, the love of one another! The love of one another is rooted in the love of God! The love of God is love of God! And herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us!

Therefore, love is also righteousness, holiness, truth.

Without these there is no love—no love of God to us, no love of us to God, no love of one another. And without this love there is no peace—no peace with God, no peace in God toward us, no peace of us toward God, no peace between man and man, between group and group, between nation and nation. It is, and it must needs be, war!

There is no shortcut to peace!

The sole road hither is that of righteousness, truth, holiness, love, life.

That road He traveled, the Prince of Peace, the Captain of our salvation!

Peace He made, first of all, with God. Everlasting peace, on the basis of an everlasting righteousness. For, voluntarily, in the obedience of love, He placed Himself under the vials of God's wrath in the hour of judgment; obediently He descended into the deepest woe and agony of death and hell to satisfy the unchangeable justice of God, thus to open the way for peace on the basis of God's own terms: His righteousness! That peace He gives unto us. For the Prince of Peace who died to make peace was raised in peace, was glorified and exalted at the right hand of God to reign in peace and to overcome all the evil forces of war, and was given the Spirit to realize that peace in the hearts of all His own. By that Spirit He leads us into His kingdom of peace with God, assures us of our reconciliation with God through His blood, removes the enmity against God that is in our hearts by nature, pours out in us the love of God, and causes us to sing with joy: "We, therefore, being justified by faith, have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!"

The Prince of Peace!

Through that peace with God we have peace with one another!

By nature we are war-makers. For we live in malice and envy and covetousness. We are filled with pride and hate one another. But when the Prince of Peace reigns in our hearts by His Spirit and grace, we become makers of peace, love one another, humble ourselves, forbear one another and forgive one another, even as God for Christ's sake forgave us!

And through Him we have peace with all things!

For, having peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we even now are assured that all things are ours and we are His and He is God's, and that He who reconciled us with Himself through the death of His Son will surely cause all things to work together for our good.

And we look forward to the final kingdom of peace!

Then, in the new heavens and the new earth, in which righteousness shall dwell, God's tabernacle shall be spread over all!

The creature shall participate in the glorious liberty of the children of God!

And there shall be nothing that shall destroy in all God's holy mountain!

Blessed Prince of Peace!

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This Christmas meditation was written by Herman Hoeksema.

You can read the full meditation in the book The Mystery of Bethlehem or on the Standard Bearer archives.

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