By Stuart Powell
Julius Caesar led his Roman troops to victory at the battle of Zela in 47 BC in what is now northern Turkey. Details of the battle are relegated to history scholars and trivia buffs. Those accounts tell of a complete and rapid victory. A well-known Latin declaration of triumph is attributed to the conqueror: “Veni, vidi, vici.” In English that translates to, “I came; I saw; I conquered.” We can write these words off as the excessive boasting of an arrogant warlord who died centuries ago. But as believers, we can reapply this proclamation of victory to Jesus of Nazareth. The phrase speaks directly to our Savior’s mission, as the introduction to John’s Gospel presents it: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
Jesus came. He appeared on earth not in a heavenly form that people could not comprehend, but in the physical form of a baby and then a man.
Jesus saw. He experienced humanity in a sinful world. He faced our temptations and endured the pain of the curse firsthand. Jesus saw our struggles and the consequences of sin in the lives of those we know and love.
Jesus conquered. John’s introduction doesn’t declare Jesus’ victory, but New Testament writings demonstrate Jesus defeated enemies no other human ever tamed. Jesus conquered sin, he defeated pain, he vanquished death. Caesar’s victory lasted for years, but it is mostly forgotten in history. Jesus’ victory is eternal and will never be forgotten.
In this time of Communion, we participate in the ongoing remembrance of the Conqueror from Heaven. The bread and the cup are reminders of the weapons of his victory—his body and blood. God uses the flesh of his only Son to bring about this everlasting victory for all of us. Take time to celebrate as you partake of the emblems.
Stuart Powell lives outside of Terre Haute, Indiana, where he serves with the North Side Christian Church.