Let's go back in time. God's people, the Israelites, were being held captive in slavery. They were suffering greatly. The prophets of the time kept talking about a great king who was coming to set them free, Messiah. If you were in the position of the Israelites, what would you expect Messiah to look like? Possibly a great warrior who would destroy all the sinners who were oppressing you and disrespecting your God? Possibly someone who would exact vengeance on all evildoers? Maybe someone strong and powerful who would finally stop letting people push him around?
It is no surprise, then, that Jesus would have been an unlikely candidate for Messiah. This is a man who was born in a barn. The people responsible for keeping him alive, his parents, were a teenage girl and an old carpenter. He went around talking about loving your enemies, not destroying them. Jesus acted like a servant everywhere he went. Finally, when he was hunted down by an angry mob and sentenced to die by being hung on a cross, he just surrendered. Through his whole execution he didn't say a word. He let people spit at him and mock him. How is this guy supposed to be the one that saves everybody?
At first glance it just doesn't make any sense. However, if you take a harder look you might be surprised. For years the Israelites had a law, summed up by the Ten Commandments, that was basically an instruction manual for how to be a good person. The problem was no one could live up to it. They constantly broke the law, and thus suffered the consequences. Why was it so hard to follow this law? Well, in order to follow it required that a person had to completely deny his own interests. It goes all the way back to the first humans, who chose to make their own decisions rather than trust God. Original sin is a hard concept for some people to grasp, but basically it means that human nature is inclined to be selfish. We think we know whats best for ourselves. Even if we are kind and help others, there are still selfish things we do that end up bringing harm to the world. Jesus was the first person that lived his entire life according to the law. He never broke it once. He did this by denying himself at every single opportunity. In other words, he conquered the flesh.
Though it may seem like the Israelites were enslaved to people, they were actually enslaved to sin. The one enemy they had never been able to conquer was their own human nature. Jesus did this. He faced every temptation known to man, but never gave in, even to the point of torture and death. Jesus did what no other human was able to or has since been able to do, and that makes him a champion. He is Messiah, and not just for the Israelites, but for everyone. By putting our faith in him, we share in his victory. We all get to be champions. Thanks be to God!
William Joseph Scheremet