“I’ll beat him so bad he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on!” That’s what acclaimed boxer Mohammed Ali said about Floyd Patterson ahead of their championship match back in 1965. Known as “trash talking,” boxers also engage in this form of verbal sparring in the midst of the actual fight itself, taunting and goading their opponents.
In the midst of the greatest fight of all time, the Lord Jesus Christ engaged in a little verbal sparring of His own. In a passage that eavesdrops on the Lord’s thoughts as He hung on Calvary’s cross, He first reflected on the scourging and shameful spitting to which He’d been subjected (Isa. 50:6), and then the prophet heard Him call out His foe:
“He is near that justifieth Me; who will contend with Me? let us stand together: who is Mine adversary? let him come near to Me” (Isa. 50:8).
Just picture the scene! Outwardly, the Lord was the sacrificial Lamb of God, meekly submitting to the will of His Father. Inwardly, He was the defiant contender to the throne of the world, thundering forth a challenge toward His unseen adversary, the reigning champion who had wrested the throne away from Adam. The god of this world thought he had your Savior on the ropes that dark day, but inwardly the Lord was roaring, as it were, “Bring it on! Is that the best you’ve got? A little scourging? A little shame and spitting? A little crucifixion” (v. 6)? By all outward appearances, your Savior looked like a helpless victim that day, but inwardly He was the vanquishing Victor!
How could someone in such an impossibly hopeless situation feel so overwhelmingly triumphant? It was simple, really. He trusted in God, as the next verse shows:
“Behold, the Lord GOD will help Me; who is he that shall condemn Me?…” (Isa. 50:9).
If those words sound familiar, it is because those are the words that the Apostle Paul chose to encourage you in whatever impossibly hopeless situation you may find yourself:
“Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:33,34).
With all of the “tribulation” in your life (v. 35), outwardly it might look as if you are “accounted as sheep for the slaughter” (v. 36), living in the impossibly hopeless situation of a lamb about to be butchered. But knowing that “it is God that justifieth” you, you can say, as it were, “Bring it on! Is that the best you got? A little unemployment? A little cancer? A little grief when the dearest on earth is ripped from my side?”
As with the Lord Himself, God does not promise that we will be able to conquer whatever harsh trial we are going through, but He does promise that in every trial we are “more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (v. 37), for none of these things “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (v. 39). The key is to remember that “our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (II Cor. 4:17), and to remember that we are only more than conquerors when “we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (v. 18).
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.
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