Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? I John 5:1-5 ESV
[Jesus said:] “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 ESV
Long ago a 12-year-old boy named Alexander tamed a wild horse named Bucephalus, a huge stallion with a very fierce temper. Bucephalus became Alexander’s battle companion for most of the rest of his life. Alexander’s victories didn’t stop with overcoming a wild horse. When he grew up he went on to conquer most of the known world and to set up the largest empire history had seen up to that point. He was a brilliant and often cruel military leader who never lost a battle in his life. He conquered Egypt, Persia, and India, and today we know of him as Alexander the Great.
John talked about overcoming the world, but he meant a different kind of overcoming than the kind that comes by force and military victory. He talked about loving God and obeying his commandments and loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. In these quiet and gentle ways, we overcome the world. It’s not our acts of love and obedience that actually overcome the world, though. It’s the fact that we are born of God and have faith in him that overcomes the world. Believing in Jesus is what turns everything in our hearts and lives around to a new purpose and overcomes the evil forces in this world that work against God.
Jesus truly overcame the world when he came to live among us. He went to the cross to overcome the forces of sin and death and evil, and by his death and resurrection he accomplished the victory. When we believe in Jesus and are born into his family by faith through our baptism, his victory over sin and death becomes our victory as well. That’s why we can say that our faith overcomes the world. Our victory isn’t in anything we can do for ourselves, but instead it completely depends on everything Jesus has done for us. He has made us his people, now and always, and nothing in this world can take us away from him.
Dear Jesus, thank you for overcoming the world for us, and for giving us the faith to overcome through you. Amen.