Friday the 13th sign against a stormy background with lightning and copy space. Dirty and angled sign adds to the drama.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. - Ephesians 6:12
Looking at my calendar earlier this month, I realized March has a Friday the Thirteenth this year – the bad luck day. Some years ago, I remember looking up the origins of Friday the Thirteenth folklore, and the most notable event had to do with the attack on the Knights Templar by King Philip IV of France, which occurred on Friday, October 13, 1307. Whether the Knights Templar were corrupt, heretical pagans or devout Roman Catholic Crusaders is hotly contested, but one thing they unquestionably were, was wealthy. And kings in the Middle Ages (really, all ages and places) certainly sought to attain wealth for their coffers. They also went to great lengths to limit wealth they thought might be used against them. King Philip was not the lone king with that particular concern.
Interestingly, it is said that Christ was crucified on Friday the thirteenth, which is a fairly amazing claim because the calendar we use today was not used by Jesus. His life revolved around the Jewish calendar, although the Julian calendar of the Romans is the basis of our current calendar. Even so, marking time from Anno Domini (the year of the Lord) did not become common practice until the eighth century. Historical experts can backdate with a surprising degree of accuracy, but we are not even certain what year Jesus was born. Moving forward from the best guesstimate of His birth to the exact date of His crucifixion and death, and taking into consideration the dates of the Passover from that range of years on the Jewish calendar, one could come up with… nothing reliable. However, the belief that Jesus was crucified on Friday the thirteenth persists in popular thought, and for all I know, He could have been.
Do I have a point with this history lesson? Actually, yes. Bad luck, such as we define it, doesn’t really exist. Bad things happen. Life goes wrong. Circumstances change for the worse. There are a host of different ways in which life can take a turn in what we consider the wrong direction. Certainly, it was unfortunate that the Knights Templars were attacked by the King of France, but that cannot be defined as bad luck. That can be defined as sin – greed, insecurity, desire for power, and so on – in King Philip. If he was responding to heresy and cultic rites in the Knights Templar, then we can point to their sin, as well.
Was it bad luck that Christ was crucified on any day? Obviously, luck had nothing to do with His death. The crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ reveal so much truth that one would be hard-pressed to list them all, but to think luck played a role is absurd. In the providential plan of God, Christ’s crucifixion and death were inevitable and necessary for our salvation. They also were the culmination of a host of sins among the Jewish leaders and Roman authorities. But perhaps most importantly, Jesus’ crucifixion and death were the final, strongest, best effort to reign by the powers and rulers of darkness and spiritual forces of wickedness. Far too often, we fail to recognize and acknowledge the reality of evil, which is odd since Paul names the rulers and powers of darkness in our age and in the spiritual realms as the ones against whom we struggle. Even more to the point, Jesus was clear He was destroying Satan and his minions – who are far from cute, little, yellow cartoons.
In his satire The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis said we make two mistakes regarding Satan and evil. The first is that we do not believe they exist, and the second is that we become too interested in them, taking them too seriously. Overall, I believe we tend toward the first error, but there are some who tend to “feel an excessive and unhealthy interest” in devils and demons, in Lewis’ words.
We are wise to seek the middle attitude, both aware and, yet, unafraid. As the Apostle John pointed out, “Greater is He Who is in you than he who is in the world.” (cf. 1 John 4:4) If Christ Jesus dwells in us through His Holy Spirit, then we have nothing to fear regardless of circumstances. We may have something to mourn or a challenge to face or a setback to overcome, but we have no real cause for fear. We are “from God,” as St. John said, and God has defeated the evil powers already. Satan and his demons are just wandering around trying to catch and destroy as many people as possible. Right now, it appears he is having a significant measure of success.
Do not be afraid. Scripture tells us that over and over again. Have no fear. But at the same time, do not hide from the reality of evil, and do not attribute it to bad luck, fate, or anything else. The devil is prowling like a lion, seeking people to devour… (cf. 1 Peter 5:8) Within you is the power to stop him, if you truly allow Christ Jesus to abide in you. But you first have to acknowledge he exists.
What do you think? Do you believe the devil is prowling around, looking for someone to destroy? Jesus certainly thought that. More importantly, does the Spirit of life live in you in power and strength, enabling you to put on God’s armor and defeat evil when it comes your way?
In Christ –
Elizabeth Moreau – © 2020