Revealing the EnemyDecember 13th, 2013 by Anthony Bosman
This is the second in a three part series on the significance of the cross. Be sure to check out part one: Revealing God.
Last post, we saw in John’s gospel account the progressive unveiling of the love of God: Jesus’ miracles and teachings reveal the Father’s love with increasing clarity leading up the fullest revelation in the cross event.
But a question remains. If the picture of God we saw in Jesus is accurate–that He is a Person of absolute love–then why is the world so broken and suffering so pervasive?
This question has led some to conclude that there is another side to God; perhaps God isn’t always driven by love. But this isn’t Jesus’ answer. In the theology of Jesus all of God’s actions flow from the abundance of His love.
Rather, Jesus attributes the pain and mess of the world to another player altogether, the Enemy. And just as Jesus’ earthly life revealed God’s love, it also unmasked the Enemy’s selfishness. Note a few teachings about this Enemy:
Jesus calls him “the devil” (Jn. 8:44), which literally translates as “the accuser” or “the slanderer.” This helps explain why there is so much confusion about God.
Jesus describes the Enemy as a personal being, not just an evil force. Yet this being is fully given over to advancing destruction and deception: “He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.” (Jn. 8:44)
Jesus teaches that people, even respected religious leaders (Jn. 8) or professed followers of Jesus (Jn. 13:2), can align themselves with the Enemy’s plans.
Jesus calls him “the ruler of this world” (Jn. 12:31), explaining why our world is so broken.
We’re beginning to see how this being operates: He leads the cause for destruction and suffering, drafting others to join him, but through deception makes it appear God is really the guilty party.
Thus Jesus came to call out his lies.
But Jesus didn’t just use words. He performed miracles–healing the sick and raising the dead, showing that death and disease aren’t from the heart of God. Yet all this was just buildup to the greatest unmasking that happened at the cross.
Here’s how Jesus explained what took place on the cross: “Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out” (Jn. 12:31).
In revealing the total self-giving love of God, Jesus also uncovered the devil’s selfishness. Jesus had called him a murderer, above any doubt, the cross verified this. Yes, there were human agents involved–corrupt religious and political leaders–but they were merely acting out the devil’s schemes.
Above we saw the devil works by destruction and deception. The cross signaled the end of his reign of deception. Now when one understands the cross event, she discovers the beauty of God’s love and the ugliness of the Enemy’s rebellion. Deception loses its power over her. And soon, when the message of the cross has been fully proclaimed, the Enemy’s reign of destruction will also be brought to an end.