John 17:32 Jesus said, “The hour is coming, indeed it has come, when you will be scattered, each one to his home, and you will leave me alone. Yet I am not alone because the Father is with me. 33 I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!”
What does Jesus mean when he says, “I have conquered the world!”? That’s what I was thinking about this morning as I read this passage. The Greek word for world is “cosmos”, which refers to what I might call “the world order”. It’s not so much a reference to physical things as spiritual things. Behind the Romans and the Pharisees and others opposed to Jesus is a spiritual world order that is opposed to God and all things holy. The bible tells us that the “prince of this world” is Satan.
So when Jesus says “I have conquered the world” he means he has overcome the spiritual forces that opposed him, his disciples, and the good news Jesus came to share. The disciples may have suffered and even been killed, but the message of the gospel lived on. The mighty Roman empire ruled the day in Jesus’ life and in the lives of his disciples, but 2,000+ years later the church remains vibrant around the world and the Roman empire is no more.
Even today we Christians face opposition in things large and small. The “world” isn’t gone, though its ultimate defeat is assured. As I reflect on places where it seems spiritual forces of evil are trying to take hold in my own little corner of the world, this word from scripture gives me hope and strength to keep up the fight for the sake of Jesus’ name. Amen.