John 16:33 (NIV) — “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
After Jesus completed his teaching and laid out for his disciples and chosen twelve apostles all that he could reveal to them, he assured him that though the world they inhabited would be filled with troubles and trials and tribulations and persecutions, etc., their Messiah has overcome them. The greatest source of conflict, Satan, has been ultimately defeated and proven wrong in his quest to prove that humanity is unworthy of forgiveness and that no man would be willing to sacrifice himself in payment to God for the sins of all mankind.
When Jesus said this, he was about to fulfill prophecy and ultimately claim victory over Satan by enabling the Pharisees and Sadducees to bring him before the Sanhedrin and Pontius Pilate for trial and crucifixion. Jesus was stepping forward and willingly choosing to sacrifice himself for the redemption of all humanity. He found value in humanity. He saw something in mankind worthy of redemption. He sought to make right what was disconnected and broken between the relationship mankind had with God and the relationship God had with humanity. Jesus rebuked Satan’s temptations. He spread love and compassion and remained sinless and righteous and faultless.
God, in order to challenge the accusations against him by Satan, sacrificed his own divine son– offering a piece of Himself for judgment by humanity–and a sacrifice that would hopefully prove once and for all that someone was willing to step up and defend humanity and re-establish an order of harmony–gave Jesus up to the crucifixion.
And all Satan could do was witness this defeat.
So what does this mean for us? The average person here and now?
We have value. We are treasured people. Jesus found something inside humanity that was worthy of saving from condemnation and final death. A door to salvation has been opened for all of us– ALL OF US. We are worthy of forgiveness. Our faults and flaws and imperfections are rendered clean the moment we seek forgiveness from God– because Jesus paid the sacrifice and defended us and forgave us of our sins while on the cross. If we were not worthy, if we were all beyond hope, if we were all abominations and beyond forgiveness or thought we were, Jesus would not have sacrificed himself for us. It would be doubtful that Jesus would have acted the way that he did if he saw a humanity beyond saving. But he did see something in us. He saw we had the means to pull ourselves out of darkness.
The very thing that might have condemned us in the Old Testament– free will– is the very thing that might save us now, if we willingly make a choice to believe in the power of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. If we choose to love and follow the example of Jesus, we would be justifying his sacrifice and letting Satan know that he was quite wrong about us.