When Jesus Haunts Your Halloween
Article by David Mathis, Editor, desiringGod.org
Unclean spirits stir. Demonic thrones and dominions gather. Cosmic powers over this present darkness come to attention. And the devil himself, ready to devour and destroy, ignites his fiery darts and stretches his legs for the lion’s prowl.
As All Hallows’ Eve draws nigh, the spiritual forces of evil align, and Satan prepares his hordes for the party of the year — that grand harvest festival, celebration of darkness and death, when they pretend to be their strongest.
Halloween is almost here. And so is their final defeat. Jesus haunts their Halloween.
One Little Word
As the demonic rulers and authorities make ready, the one who sits in the heavens laughs (Psalm 2:4). The devil is no threat, with all his orcs and goblins and the wickedest of witches. This is no evenly matched bout. If the incarnate Christ, in his humblest state, commands unclean spirits and they obey him (Mark 1:27) — how much more the risen and glorified Lord? It is Jesus who does the real haunting.
“Jesus came to conquer fear, to truly haunt whatever haunts us.”
Even as his adversaries marshal their best, they can’t escape serving his purposes. It is all through him and for him. “By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth . . . whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). Jesus haunts their Halloween.
No demon lurks apart from his will. No spirit pounces apart from his plan. He is sovereign over even the movements of evil minds. “God has put it into their hearts to carry out his purpose by being of one mind and handing over their royal power to the beast, until the words of God are fulfilled” (Revelation 17:17).
Luther nailed it — one little word shall fell them. Jesus haunts their Halloween.
He Put Them to Shame
It was precisely when the devil feigned to be his fiercest that Jesus delivered the deathblow. It was a Halloween-like gathering of ghouls and goblins at Golgotha when “he disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them” (Colossians 2:15).
Jesus came to conquer fear, to truly haunt whatever haunts us. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). He stooped to share in our flesh and blood “that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery” (Hebrews 2:14–15).
Every Single Inch
Those who are in Christ have no need to fear the night. This is now our day. He has won it for us, and will not leave us to fend for ourselves in the devil’s domain. God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Colossians 1:13). This we know: “he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
“It was precisely when the devil feigned to be his fiercest that Jesus delivered the deathblow.”
“Take heart; I have overcome the world,” he says (John 16:33). Every inch of this universe — every single one — is his. And that includes All Hallows’ Eve and all its worst, and all the pretense. He is the one who empowers us to “withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm” (Ephesians 6:13). And he says that just as he squashed the Serpent’s skull with his heel, so “the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20). Our feet. Get your boots.
Jesus haunts their Halloween. And so too he must haunt ours.
Dressed Up for Real
When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:14) and “put on the new self” (Colossians 3:10). Dressed in the full armor of God, we “stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11) on the exact night when he’d most want us to circle the wagons. We have a Book and will “not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs” (2 Corinthians 2:11). We “take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16).
When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we pour in the extra energy and creativity to capitalize on this opportunity to meet new neighbors and go deep with the old — whether we’re ushering our kids from house to house or leaving our lights on and giving out the best candy.
Sent into the Harvest
When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we remember that our enemy is not the scariest-clad Halloween reveler, but “the god of this world” who has blinded their minds and keeps them “from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:4). We war not against unbelievers but “the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2). We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but the rulers, authorities, cosmic powers over this present darkness, and spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:12).
When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we look on the cheekiest carousers with compassion — as “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). On this night, as much as any, “the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few,” and so we “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38). And we walk in faith to be those workers.
Freed from Fear
And when Jesus haunts our Halloween, we fight not only Satan, but fear in our souls. We see that our Halloween horrors reveal our lack of faith in who Jesus is, what he has accomplished, and that he has commissioned us so clearly.
When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we do not flee, but go on the offensive. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). We don’t retreat, but resist — with level heads and open eyes. “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith” (1 Peter 5:8–9). We engage, with care and with courage.
Staring Death in the Face
“Those who are in Christ have no need to fear the night.”
When Jesus haunts our Halloween, we remember that the forces of evil, which we can be so prone to fear, are actually terrified of Jesus. Everyday is a spook for the devil and his demons, and Jesus does the haunting. The decisive blow has been dealt, and soon we will land the final punch.
Jesus has promised his gospel will advance (Matthew 24:14). He will build his church, and the gates of hell will not prevail (Matthew 16:18). And so when Jesus haunts our Halloween, we join the triumphant anthem:
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55–57)
David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor for desiringGod.org and pastor at Cities Church in Minneapolis/St. Paul. He is a husband, father of four, and author of Habits of Grace: Enjoying Jesus through the Spiritual Disciplines.