It’s that time of year when you hear preachers say, “The Devil thought he won on Friday, but he didn’t know about Sunday!”
It preaches well. But I don’t think it’s true.
Painting a potential picture of the demonic realm rejoicing over the death of Jesus, only to have their party ruined by Jesus rising from the dead is a compelling scene. But if we tie together a few Biblical texts and then bake it in some biblical theology, I think we see the Devil wanting to derail Good Friday from happening at all.
The Devil Knows The Plan of God
First, we know that before God created the world, before Genesis 1–2 unfolded, there was a book filled with the names of those who would be redeemed by the blood of Jesus (Revelation 13:8). The Lamb’s book of life also existed before the fall of Lucifer and his henchmen. It’s probably safe to say that Satan knows about this book.
Secondly, Satan would have heard and observed the unfolding plan of God as he slithered in Eden (Genesis 3:15), as God made promises to Abraham (Genesis 15) and David (2 Samuel 7), and as the prophets, like Isaiah (Isaiah 53), thundered about the arrival and actions of the Messiah.
The Devil Wanted To Stop The Crucifixion
First, Jesus is born and what do the demonic powers want to do? Kill him. Through Herod, the ancient Dragon wants to keep Jesus from living the righteous life we need and from being our substitute on the cross (Revelation 12:4–5). He fails.
Second, what does Satan tempt Jesus with in the wilderness (Matthew 4)? A bundle of things: “You can’t trust the Father, he isn’t even giving you bread—you are going to trust him toward death? You only need to bow down to me, and I can give you an inheritance now, glory now—avoid the cross, have it now.” Satan wants Jesus to skirt the cross. Forego suffering. Satan fails.
Third, Satan would have heard Jesus say over and over again to his disciples that, “They will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked, flogged, and crucified, and on the third day he will be raised.” (Matthew 20:19). The demons knew Jesus’s true identity, and they knew what he was driving at.
Fourth, when Peter tries to keep Jesus from going to Jerusalem, where Jesus said he will be killed and rise again, what does Jesus say? “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). Peter is acting like Satan, trying to stop the crucifixion and the predetermined plan of God from happening.
Fifth, as Jesus was hanging on the cross, he is tempted to get himself down from the cross. Why? This would cease his substituting death for us—Satan wouldn’t be disarmed and defeated. But Jesus did the Father’s will, he died and rose again for us. Defeating Satan every step of the way.
I bet many of us will sing this Easter Sunday:
Our savior displayed on a criminal’s cross. Darkness rejoiced as though heaven had lost. But then Jesus arose with our freedom in handDeath Was Arrested
Maybe the Dark powers did rejoice. But, maybe, just maybe they knew they were defeated when Jesus breathed his last because he was going to breathe again.