Was Jesus’ Death Satan’s Triumph

We’ve all seen it. In the moive The Passion of Christ, Satan was jubilant as the Son of God was being led like a sheep to the slaughter along the Via Dolorosa. The road ended at a place called Golgotha, the place of the Skull, where Jesus and two other common criminals were cruelly executed on wooden crosses. It has been etched into our minds. It has become an integral part of our theology, that Jesus’ death was Satan’s triumph. But was it? Which portion of Scripture tells you that?

On the contrary, the Scriptures tells us that when Jesus told His disciples about His imminent suffering and death, Peter took Him aside later on and rebuked Him, saying, "God forbid it, Lord. This shall never happen to you" (Matt 16:21-22) In response, Jesus said to Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan." Was Jesus calling Peter Satan? Or was Peter speaking on behalf of Satan? Absolutely not. Rather, Jesus recognized that Peter was having the same ‘spirit’ that Lucifer had: an egocentric spirit, one that thought of the needs and wants of the Self more than the Will of God. Peter was not thinking about the reason that Jesus came to the earth. Jesus came to the earth to die for the Elect, and if that death did not take place no man could be saved. "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). Peter had his eyes fixed on the human aspect – he did not want Jesus to suffer or die – rather than on the spiritual aspect. Jesus may have also called Peter ‘Satan’ because that name means ‘adversary’. For that moment, in that particular situation, Peter acted as an adversary of Jesus, opposing the Father’s Will for Him.

Remember the Temptation of Jesus? What did Satan try to get Jesus to do?

First, Satan tried to get Jesus to turn stones into bread. What was the point? Satan was tempting Jesus to give in to His physical and carnal urges (hunger). Jesus refused to be tempted or serve His own carnal needs. The command and assignment of God supersedes all else. After all, man will not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.

Secondly, Satan tried to cause Jesus to sin by jumping off a cliff and thereby tempting God to see if He would come to His (Jesus’) rescue. Once again, Jesus was steadfast. He reminded Satan that "you shall not tempt the Lord thy God".

Finally, when all else has failed, Satan tried to get Jesus to the ‘dark side’, so to speak.

Satan did all this to prevent Jesus from reaching the cross at Calvary.

Now comes the difficult question. If Satan was trying to prevent Jesus from reaching the cross, why then did he cause Judas to betray Jesus resulting His arrest and crucifixion?

In the upper room where Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, Satan probably knew that he had lost. There was nothing he could do to thwart the plan of God at that late stage. But, although he had conceded the war, he was still going down fighting. He would be very happy if he could discredit Jesus one way of another. The way Satan had chosen to discredit Jesus was to have one of His closest disciples betray Him.

Judas clearly had a weakness. Money. It was for money that Judas chose to betray Jesus. At the Passover meal, I believe that Jesus offered Judas one more chance to repent and redeem himself. But he turned it down. At that point of time, Satan entered him; strengthening his resolve to betray his lord all the more. When all was said and done, Judas was so overcome by remorse that he killed himself.

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