"Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia! The strife is o'er, the battle done; Now is the victor's triumph won; Now be the song of praise begun. Alleluia!
"He broke the age-bound chains of hell; The bars from heav'n's high portals fell. Let hymns of praise His triumph tell. Alleluia!"
Jesus told His disciples about the strife to come. He must go to Jerusalem, where He would be rejected, condemned, and killed, and on the third day rise. Yet, even before He spoke of the deadly strife, He told the disciples of the victory to come. Jesus' victory would also be a triumph for His followers. The church, built on Jesus and on the confession that He is the Messiah and the Son of the living God, would be so strong that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matthew 16:18b). The strife was not over—it had barely begun—but the outcome was already decided.
Just as He had foretold, Jesus was rejected and betrayed. His disciples fled, including Peter, who had boldly confessed that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God. For a time, according to God's plan, "the power of darkness" was permitted to overshadow the Light of the world (see Luke 22:53). Jesus was condemned to death and nailed to the cross. There, hanging alone in weakness, the Son of God was engaged in battle with our deadly foes—sin, death, and Satan, enemies that held us captive. In fact, in fallen sinfulness, we willingly gave ourselves over to our captors. No efforts of our own could set us free. It was a battle that we could never win.
Jesus died in the strife and yet, even in death His triumph had begun. Through His death, Jesus destroyed "the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil" (Hebrews 2:14b). The Savior's body was taken down from the cross and buried in a sealed and guarded tomb. On the first Easter morning, He rose in triumph from the grave. The Victim was the Victor, and He "broke the age-bound chains of hell." The strife is over, the battle is done. For all who trust in Jesus, death and the devil no longer have the last word. Jesus is "alive forevermore" and He holds "the keys of Death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18b).
While here on earth, our strife is not over. We are still engaged in battle against sin and Satan, yet we can be confident because Jesus has triumphed and His victory is our victory. As His body, the church, we move forward in witness, love, and service in our Lord's Name. Captives are set free as the Holy Spirit continues His work of enlightening hearts through the Gospel. The gates of hell cannot prevail against us and "heav'n's high portals" stand open before us. Our hymns of praise tell the story of Jesus' triumph, the victory that will be celebrated now and into eternity! Alleluia!
THE PRAYER: Mighty Savior, You have broken the chains of sin and death. You have set me free! Amen.
The Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "The Strife is O'er, the Battle Done," which is found on page 464 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. When was the last time you cheered (loudly) for something or someone?
2. How can the church stand strong against the powers of hell?
3. How does the Holy Spirit enlighten the hearts of people today?
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"