Links Daily Devotional

No Match

For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! (Romans 5:15, NIV)

Match play comes to Austin, Texas, this week, and the best men in the world are hoping that this is the week their hand is hot. To win at match play takes a combination of steady play and great timing. A stroke of luck at just the right moment can turn the momentum and propel one player to the championship. So it pays to be prepared for whatever happens, because it certainly can!

Among all the stories of victory there is one great failed matchup that stands out and one great triumph that undid the damage.The near presence of match play conjures up some of the great matches of the Bible: Noah vs. the flood, Sarah vs. barrenness, David vs. Goliath, Daniel vs. the lions. Over and over we could write a script that goes like this: put the power of Lord on the side of an underdog and watch the tables turn.

But among all those stories of victory there is one great failed matchup that stands out and one great triumph that undid the damage.

We’ll begin with Adam. In the garden, Adam had every advantage. He was the created of the Lord, the beloved of the Lord, and the servant of the Lord. More than that, the Lord walked and talked with him in the cool of the evening. There was only one against whom we might have called Adam the underdog, and this was Satan, the great enemy of God and man. And the enemy’s allure was great.

The serpent, who was Satan, wrote himself into the script by showing up in the garden, confusing Eve with these words, “Did God really say?” They are words he has used again and again over the millennia to overcome unwitting souls, those who are not fixed in their minds and their hearts as to the authority of God. This is no below-the-belt tactic outside the purview of the Queensbury rules. It is a question plain and simple, to which Adam or Eve, or both, could have said, “No, that’s not what he said at all. Who are you and why are you trying to deceive us?” But the temptation was great, and in the undercard that was Adam vs. the devil, the result was a pitiful knockout.

Sadly, the effects of this loss were felt far and wide. Sin—that exchange of God’s truth for the plea of the flesh—became the modus operandi of every human to follow. And the consequence of sin, which is death, became our common lot as well.

Until the main event.

When Jesus came of the Father, sent to redeem humanity, he too was met by the age-old challenger who is Satan. And again, in a confrontation initiated after Jesus had spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness, the enemy came with his question: “Didn’t God say?” But this time, the attacked knew the truth, held it up from the Scriptures, and drove the devil back to his corner.

There Satan stayed “until an opportune time.” Then he came again, throwing his weight around by way of the religious stalwarts and the Roman authorities. “Did God really say that this one would save the world?” the enemy asked. “Let’s see how that promise survives a crucifixion.”

The rest, we might say, is history, but for the fact that Jesus’ hours on the cross and days in the grave were not where this match was decided. Though Christ declared his work finished on the cross, the revelation of that ending was not made clear until he walked from the tomb, alive, victorious, and sharing of his victory with all who would have it. This history knocks on the door of our heart even today.

Jeff Hopper
March 21, 2016
Copyright 2016 Links Players International
The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.