As this exciting summer of sport continues the spectacle of competition fascinates us all. The winners and the losers, triumph and tragedy and tears of ecstasy or despair keep us all glued to our screens. The World Cup is heading to its climax, Wimbledon is at the real business end of things and the Commonwealth Games draws ever closer. Over the next days and weeks we will see the victors crowned for their success. Crowning the victorious is an interesting analogy for a sporting triumph drawn from royal coronations and in particular ancient conflicts and wars between kings and queens and their armies. But nonetheless we see the same principles apply, where at the end of it all only the winners get the ultimate prize. After Andy Murray had lost in the quarter finals at Wimbledon I heard one journalist say ‘Murray relinquishes his crown as his reign comes to an end’. Equally after Spain lost their first two games in Brazil the commentators spoke of them being ‘de-throned’ as the Kings of world football. This Sunday night I am preaching on in our series of Encountering Jesus as we think of ‘Encountering Jesus: The Victor’. Scripture assures us that there is a real contest, a desperate spiritual battle raging around us; as Paul says in Ephesians 6:12, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” The wonderful news though is that battle has been won by Jesus. I love the part in Revelation 5 where the victorious Jesus is worshipped in heaven as “the Lion of Judah who has triumphed” over all. The great battle has been won on the cross eternally, but that doesn’t mean that we will not have our daily conflicts and wars to win. However, once again we are assured by God’s word that because He has won, we also win through our faith and trust in Him, “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Cor 50:57). Through His victory and our incorporation in it we are then given His authority to take on those ‘principalities and dark rulers’ and overcome them as we take Kingdom ground with Jesus. So what does all this do for us as Christians? Well firstly it should cause us to worship Him all the more for His eternal triumph over sin, sickness, death and hell and to proclaim Him as the King of Kings. As the great hymn of Thomas Kelly marvellously says, “The head that once was crowned with thorns is crowned with glory now; a royal diadem adorns the mighty victor’s brow.” Then it should urge us to believe that we are also over-comers in Christ; victors not victims, as we too have the authority to call down strongholds and dethrone false heirs to His rightful throne as Lord in our lives and the towns and cities we live in. If you don’t already know the song I highly recommend you listen to Darlene Zschech’s wonderful worship anthem ‘The Victor’s Crown’ and join in with heaven’s chorus of praise and victory for Jesus….