One of the rare moments of complete jubilation during the years-long carnage that was World War II was the liberation of Paris on a late summer day in 1944. It was decisive, complete, and stunning. Masses of people streamed to the Champs-Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe.
A photographer for LIFE Magazine, Ralph Morse, recalled “the feeling of certainty in the air. Everyone knew it was over. And I don’t mean the battle for Paris. I mean the war. We all knew there was a lot of fighting left. The Battle of the Bulge a few months later proved that… But [on that day] we all sensed it was now only a matter of time, and not much time, before we took Berlin.”
There are times in our lives when we see a victory over sin or evil. It is not the end of the battle, but the beginning of the end.
So it was with the ministry of Jesus. His main message was that the kingdom of God—complete, divine, benevolent reigning—was a certainty, and that Jesus’ own ministry showed that. The truth of Jesus’ words put liars in their place. His healings showed that disease and death do not get the final word. When he cast dark, demonic powers out of people’s lives, Jesus was saying: freedom has come to you this day. Liberation, life, jubilation.
Jesus looked the Pharisees in the eye and said, “if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.” This was a decisive, bold claim. With the presence and power of Jesus, the world saw a new reality. The power of God over evil had “come upon” the human scene.
Whenever we are face to face with people or circumstances that are evil, our tendency is to hope that someday, somehow, the oppression will stop. But what we need to do is to take Jesus at his word: “the kingdom of God has come upon” us. We may still hear the bark and feel the bite of the mad dog that is the evil one, but he is on a leash. There is only so much he can do. King Jesus is here. Occupied territory has been liberated.
PONDER: Do you know someone who is feeling the pain of malice or evil at this time? How might you encourage that person?
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• LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS •
Yanilda lived deep in the Amazon, along a major river bisecting the Peruvian jungle. A bright sun beat down mercilessly. Her father brought her to the clinic conducted by a medical mission team. The young woman was deeply troubled, sick, and overwhelmed by depression and anxiety. There was nothing medically wrong, so far as the doctors could tell. Village church leaders volunteering as translators asked if he had taken her to the brujos—the witch doctors. “Yes,” he replied, “there was no one else who would help.”
Young girls hope that visiting workers from the big city will take them away from their remote villages, so they sleep with them, the girls conceive children, then they are abandoned. The girls go to the brujos for help; they’re told to bear the child, then throw it in the river to drown. Death, despair, and the demonic walk side by side in the spiritual darkness of the jungle communities.
We prayed for deliverance, but the young woman rebuffed our prayers. We returned a year later, but she would not see us. With our Peruvian team and the help of Brooklife Church, we planted a church in the small community, began to teach the Bible, bringing the Good News of God’s kingdom and Christ’s defeat of the powers of evil to families, children, and young women like Yanilda.
For her the grip of evil was too powerful. She denied God’s grace. She died this year during the Easter season. Yet others remain, not only in the river villages, but even deeper in the jungle, no-contact peoples who have not yet heard that “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).
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We have an enemy. His name is Satan, and he is real. As you talk through these questions as a family, the point is not to scare your children, but instead to talk about what is true. The good news is that God wins. Satan’s power fails, and in the end God is victorious.
Read Matthew 12:22-28. Jesus healed this man through God’s power, but the Pharisees thought Jesus was able to do it because of evil power. What do you know about Satan? Read Isaiah 14:12-15. How does God help us stand up to Satan? Read Ephesians 6:11-16. What do each of the pieces of armor represent? Spend some time as a family thanking God that he is more powerful than Satan and that God protects us.