This devotional is inspired by “I See Victory,” the new single from City Life Worship. (You can listen to “I See Victory” on iTunes, Apple Music, and Spotify.) My prayer is that these thoughts would bury into your heart as you listen to the song, that you would believe, claim, and stand on the victory that Jesus won for you. – AJ Luca
It didn’t look like victory when they whipped You to the ground and You said nothing. It didn’t look like victory when they hung you on a tree and there You died, and the world was dark and quiet.
It didn’t just not look like victory – it actually looked like absolute defeat. Like He lost. Like all the promises and declarations He made for the last three years were ridiculous, garbage, nice words with no substance. Can you imagine being one of His followers at that time, watching Him die like a criminal worthy of capital punishment? I’d like to say that if I were there, I’d be so full of faith that I’d know this couldn’t be the end of my hope in Him. Honestly, however, I don’t know if I still would have believed if my eyes had seen Him hanging there when “the world was dark and quiet.”
There’s a difference between what we see around us and what we intentionally visualize.
Let’s think for a moment about Jesus’ point of view from the cross. What do you think He saw? I think He saw His mother and best friends crying, dejected . . . those who beat Him laughing, happy to see Him dying . . . the world He sacrificed everything for below Him in darkness. But I bet that when He was on the cross, He had an image of the throne room that was strong enough to get Him through the agony of death. I know that He chose to look with His spiritual eyes at “the joy that was set before Him” (Hebrews 12:2). How else would He have endured the cross?
We believe that Jesus didn’t just lie dead in the tomb but that His spirit wrestled with death in the spiritual realm between Friday and Sunday. Imagine what that battle must have looked like! Maybe I’m way too much of a Philly Italian, but I have an extremely clear picture of Jesus coming out of the tomb, and it kind of looks like Rocky. I don’t know theologically or historically what Jesus’ body and face looked like after He rose. So I am taking some imaginative, creative liberty here, but bear with me as we imagine together this wacky Jesus/Rocky hybrid. He’s been beaten to the ground, His body ripped from head to toe on earth, only to enter the spiritual realm where he battled with Satan, who had been trying to take him down since the actual beginning of time. After winning the most dynamic fight in history, the stone rolls away from the tomb, and Jesus emerges with a glimmer in His eye and a triumphant smirk that says, “I told you I’d win.” He raises his fists like Rocky and in His hand are the keys to God’s kingdom of life for everyone who believes in Him.
No matter what it really looked like, this moment is everything to us as Christians. He surrendered to death, and the moment He became obedient to it, He crushed it. Because He said yes to death He was able to control it. Death is not something that happened to Him; it’s what He chose. And because He chose death, He won the victory over it. He has victory over death, and we have victory over death and defeat, now and forever, with Him.
When your life looks like utter defeat, what do you visualize? Do you see yourself losing your battle, disappointing those who cheered you on all the way? Or do you have the courage to visualize yourself standing in confidence with Jesus? I wrote the song “I See Victory” with so much faith, excitement and genuine belief that in Jesus I can overcome anything! Still, there was a time during the process of releasing the song when I was so stressed out about the details that I became fearful and started seeing defeat. I asked someone I respect for prayer, and his response held me accountable to the lyrics I had written. He said, “Close your eyes for a second and see victory.” I felt my eyes fill with tears as I closed them to visualize my King who crushed death under His feet and won the keys to Heaven. If He could do that, surely He could care for the details of this creative project I entrusted to Him.
It takes deep faith to see victory with your spiritual eyes when your physical eyes see defeat. Walking “by faith and not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7) means that you choose to live according to the promises God gave you, and you do that through intentionally visualizing victory. So if you are feeling defeated, I challenge you: close your eyes and see victory. Spoiler alert . . . it looks a lot like Jesus.
AJ is a worship leader, songwriter, and the Weekend Service Director for City Life. She also teaches at The University of the Arts and plays jazz piano. When she’s not doing one of those things, you can find her cuddling with her cats, playing The Sims, or eating vegan chocolate.