As of late we have been hearing the President of the United States multiple times refer to COVID-19 as our “Invisible Enemy,” and that it truly is. The Coronavirus has paralyzed our country as well as nearly all countries around the world. Never in my six decades of ministry have I experienced absence from my local church for this length of time, except for going through a time of illness. Yes, the Coronavirus is an invisible enemy attacking at will here and everywhere but we also have another “Invisible Enemy,” Satan, called the “Prince and power of the air,” in Ephesians 2:1-2.
In John Chapter 14, Jesus talks to His disciples about the way to the Father, prayer, another Helper and the gift of peace. But I would especially like to draw your attention just to John 14:30-31: “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me, but that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go from here.”
The three phrases that have captured my attention in this text are “The ruler/prince of this world is coming;” “He has nothing in Me;” and “Arise, let us go from here.” The first is a caution; the second a confidence; the third a command.
Jesus knew that His last hours would include an invisible escort that would make his final & most violent attack on Him. Satan’s first attack was in the wilderness at the onset of His ministry, after which he departed for a season, and now he was coming again in one last effort to keep Him from Calvary. Jesus was not ignorant of the suffering ahead of Him in Gethsemane; or the scoffing of being despised & rejected in the street called Gabbatha; nor the shame of being nailed to a cross at Golgotha. It was to be a lonely journey, one in which Christ must travel alone. In the last hours of my brother’s life, he said he had to make this journey alone, but not as alone as that of Christ’s. My brother, a strong believer in Christ, had the promise of Psalm 23:6 – “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” The believer has no interruption from the presence of God in going from this life to the next! Christ was to experience total separation from His Father in the hours ahead.
The devil may cause loneliness but he cannot curtail the Lord’s mission. First there were eleven disciples (after Judas had left Him); then three in the Garden of Gethsemane; then one to help carry the cross and finally only one disciple at the Cross. I have received great encouragement from meditation upon this text. Let me just share a few thoughts.
Some observations from the text
First, the Prince of this world always lurks where God’s will labors! Jesus said the ruler of this world is coming! He had shown up many times before, most notably in the wilderness in Matthew 4. The devil hates God’s will. He hates the works of God. We see it throughout all the O.T. (Job is an example). This hatred followed Christ to the very end, right through to the Cross of Calvary.
Second, wherever the Prince of this world lurks, the Lord knows! Or He wouldn’t have said he is coming! You would think the devil would catch on. God is omniscient – He knows all things. Even more than Google! I always thought my mother was omniscient. Satan may have thought he was invisible, he was to all others. We do know that he showed up in Judas. The devil has a big team but the Lord knows who they are. That’s exactly why we must stay in close communion with God & be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.
Third, the Prince of this world’s presence is never a threat. He has no power over the Lord. Never did. Never has. Never will. He should have learned this when Jesus was a baby. When He did not submit to his temptations in the wilderness. During days of His public ministry in casting out demons and performing other miracles.
Fourth, the Prince of this world’s plan is always conquered by the Lord’s commands. Jesus said, as the Father gave Me commandment, so do I. Could not the creator of the universe fell the devil with but one word? Absolutely! Remember the five “I wills” of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12-14? (I will ascend into heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit upon the mount of the congregation; I will ascend about the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Host High).
Then God simply says, “You shall be brought down to Sheol, the lowest depths of the Pit.” The Cross finalized it all. The empty tomb spoke the final word! It eliminated any questions regarding Satan’s power over Jesus or death. God is always the Victor in this battle over sin and death. The Father and the Son had a unique relationship. “Father” is mentioned twenty-two times in this chapter alone and five times in the last five verses. With precise precision God the Father and God the Son worked their plan!
Fifth, the Prince of this world could not prevent the Lord’s progress – arise, let us go from here! This is the power of faith in action. Faith always leaves a trail of progress, especially the faith of Christ as He was committed to do and finish the Father’s will. At such an hour as this, I would have preferred to be alone. But He was still leading, He was still teaching. Though He knew they would forsake Him He wanted the disciples with Him in this last walk to meet Judas and His captors.
From any text in Scripture we must seek application
First, just as the Prince of this world followed Jesus until His work was finished, so it will be with us. Just plan on it. There will be trials, setbacks, heartaches, unbelievable happenings. Why? Because the devil always lurks where God’s will labors (Job 1:7)!
Second, the Prince of this world follows us BUT the Lord knows! Where He calls us He goes before us. He is our Go-ahead God. “The eyes of the Lord are in every place beholding the evil and the good” Proverbs 15:3. Though we might be caught by surprise, there are no surprises with God.
Third, the Prince of this world is not a threat to the power of faith. Hebrews 11 is a great tribute to this truth. “According to your faith be it unto you” Mt. 9:29. Faith can hurl you over all inconceivable obstacles!
Fourth, though Jesus said the Prince of this world had nothing in Him, the devil does have something in us – the old nature! BUT if we die to self every day, and pick up our cross and carry it, victories can be won and the enemy conquered! “In ALL these THINGS we are MORE than conquerors through him who loved us” Rom. 8:37. In Christ the devil has nothing in us, but in the flesh he does! J. Sidlow Baxter once said, “What we give to God He takes; what He takes, He cleanses; what He cleanses, He fills; what He fills He uses!
Fifth, Christ does not send us out into this world alone but comes with us! “Arise, let us go from here.” From right here where we are right now, this very moment, this very day! Our faith is rooted in the fact that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever! He does not send us out to be alone! And when Christ is with us, it is enough. If Christ goes with us, there are many questions that we can just leave unanswered! Questions lead to doubts. The answers will come in HIS time. When Christ is with us, we have nothing to fear! When traps and temptations were before Him He was always equal to the circumstances. When the need arose He triumphed. There was never an emergency He could not meet. Could we ever think that Jesus has lost the power to defend us in our confrontations and fears simply because He is now seated at the right hand of the Father’s Throne? That He is less capable of caring for us now than when He was tabernacled in a human body? When we envision the Cross it reminds us that whatever sufferings we may go through, they will not be in vain!
In light of what we are experiencing in our present day, we have two invisible enemies: the Coronavirus and the Devil! One is temporal, the other will be present until the Lord chooses to reign over all. This text helps us to not look back but forge ahead. Though we can have no control over COVID-19, or many other unexplainable events in life, we can with great confidence say with the Lord, the Devil has nothing in me! Greater is He that is in us that he that is in the world (I John 4:4).
We must not forget that this enemy is still coming, like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour (I Peter 5:8). But wherever we are today, or wherever we must go, the Lord goes before us and leads the way – “Arise, let us go from here!” He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 7:25).
As we trek through murky waters, heading for the City, we will always have invisible enemies, but we have a mighty and awesome God who makes Himself clear through the Scriptures and the ministry of the Holy Spirit.