It's March and in a normal year we would be in the middle of March Madness, the time of The NCAA College Men’s Basketball Championship Tournament. This year, because of the global COVID-19 Pandemic, March Madness was canceled. It was canceled in order to protect the players, coaches, fans, and general public from becoming infected, and/or spreading this highly contagious disease for which there is no know treatment or cure and for which a vaccine does not exist. Much of the nation has come to a screeching halt, or at the very least a severe slow down, with guidelines, mandates, and bans restricting the assembly of groups larger than 10 people. All non-essential businesses have been ordered closed in much of the county Seniors, and those with compromised respiratory or immune systems are urged to stay at home.
In past years fans throughout the country would be rooting for their teams hoping that they will stand alone as the champion. That team would be crowned the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Champion.
It's very unlikely that there will be no NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Champion in 2020. But we have a champion that was crowned at the beginning of time and He will remain champion forever.
Philippians 2:9-11 (NLT2) 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names,10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Revelation 11:15 (NLT2) 15 Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices shouting in heaven: “The world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign forever and ever.”
Jesus is our champion!
A champion is defined as; a person who has defeated or surpassed all rivals in a competition, especially in sports; a person who fights or argues for a cause or on behalf of someone else.
The Hebrew word translated to each of these words is archēgos, which Strongs Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible defines as a chief leader :- author, captain, prince.
Depending on your translation the Bible, in Hebrews 12:2, calls Jesus guide, author, source, or champion.
Hebrews 12:2 (BBE)2 Having our eyes fixed on Jesus, the guide and end of our faith, who went through the pains of the cross, not caring for the shame, because of the joy which was before him, and who has now taken his place at the right hand of God's seat of power.
Hebrews 12:2 (NKJV)2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2 (HCSB)2 keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne.
Hebrews 12:2 (NLT)2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Bold Mine)
All these versions or translations indicate that Jesus went to battle, on the cross, and won. On our behalf, He defeated death (eternal separation from God), which is the punishment of sin, which was the last enemy of the believer.
1 Corinthians 15:24-28 (NLT)24 After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power.25 For Christ must reign until he humbles all his enemies beneath his feet.26 And the last enemy to be destroyed is death.27 For the Scriptures say, “God has put all things under his authority.” (Of course, when it says “all things are under his authority,” that does not include God himself, who gave Christ his authority.)28 Then, when all things are under his authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, so that God, who gave his Son authority over all things, will be utterly supreme over everything everywhere. (Bold Mine)
1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (NLT)54 Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die, this Scripture will be fulfilled: “Death is swallowed up in victory.55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power.57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. (Bold Mine)
We are now observing the time of Lent, and as we look to Resurrection day and all that happened, we can see that we as Christian have received many blessings as the result of our Champion’s victory.
- Because of the Resurrection; Those who believe in Jesus as their Savior have received Forgiveness of sin.
Ephesians 1:7 (NLT)7 He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.
- Because of the Resurrection;we now have peace with God.
Romans 5:1 (NLT)1 Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.
John 14:27 (NLT)27 “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
- Because of the Resurrection; We are free from sin..
Romans 6:14-18 (NLT)14 Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not!16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.18 Now you are free from your slavery to sin, and you have become slaves to righteous living.
- Because of the Resurrection; we now have power.
Ephesians 1:19-20 (NLT)19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms.
- Because of the Resurrection; We now have His presence
John 14:15-17 (NLT)15 “If you love me, obey my commandments.16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.17 He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.
Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT)18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Because Jesus, our Champion, has secured the victory, we can rest in him, knowing that the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead is also at work in us.
1 Corinthians 6:14 (NLT)14 And God will raise us from the dead by his power, just as he raised our Lord from the dead.
Ephesians 4:8 (NLT)8 That is why the Scriptures say, “When he ascended to the heights, he led a crowd of captives and gave gifts to his people.”
Psalm 68:18 (NLT)18 When you ascended to the heights, you led a crowd of captives. You received gifts from the people, even from those who rebelled against you. Now the LORD God will live among us there.
If and when you find yourself overwhelmed with worry and anxiety remember that Jesus is your Champion, and He has been victorious which now makes you more than a conqueror. (See By Faith In God You Have Victory - You Are More Than A Conqueror)
Romans 8:35-37 (NLT)35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death?36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”)37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.
This is a prayer that ended one of my Lenten devotionals and I will end this post with it.
Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for the power present in our lives because of our champion, Christ Jesus, and would ask that today we would find ourselves equipped with courage and joy because of him who ascended on high. In Christ’s Name, Amen.