Summary: An opening illustration from George Patton. The point of Mark’s opening words in Chapter 1? 1) The time of the Messiah has come. God’s Son has arrived onto the earth He created in order to destroy the devil. 2) If we believe in Jesus we can expect to be tempted as well.
In Jesus Holy Name January 24, 2021
Text: Mark 1:12 Epiphany III Redeemer
“The Cosmic War on Earth”
When General George Patton counter-attacked Field Marshal Rommel in World War II, Patton is reported to have shouted in the thick of battle: “I read your book, Rommel!! I read your book!” He knew the German leader’s strategy and planned his moves accordingly. We know the same about the Devil. The Apostle Paul says, “We are not ignorant of his schemes. (II Cor. 2:11)
What is the point of Mark’s opening words in Chapter 1? 1) The time of the Messiah has come. God’s Son has arrived onto the earth He created in order to destroy the devil. 2) If we believe in Jesus we can expect to be tempted as well.
I love the way Mark has chosen to explain this Cosmic War on Earth. His words are short and to the point: “This is the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.” The Messiah as arrived. After his baptism, Mark writes, Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was driven by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days the “cosmic battle” between God and Satan continued to play out through the life of Jesus. Why?
In Revelation 12 & 13 we are told that Satan lost the “war in heaven”… after his defeat by the archangel Michael …the dragon and his angels lost their place in heaven and were cast out and now leads the whole world astray.” John writes: “the dragon went off to make war against those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” That’s us!(Rev. 13:17)
Philip Yancy writes: “like single combat warriors, (we watch) two giants of the cosmos converged on a scene of desolation.” (The Jesus I Never Knew p. 70)
“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”.
(1 John 3:8). The angel told Joseph in a dream that he should name the child of Mary Jesus “because He will save His people from their sins.”
Friends, Satan knew very well who Jesus was. He had already tried to kill
Jesus when He was an infant using the political power of the evil king Herod who had all the boys under the age of two in Bethlehem killed after the visit of the Magi.
The events in the wilderness was Satan’s 2nd attempt to deflect the Savior from His mission. When Satan’s temptations in the wilderness failed….Jesus returns from the wilderness and engages in His third battle. The engagement happens in a synagogue in Capernaum. (read 1:21-24) You see, they, the demons, thought this was the “final judgment of God explained in Revelation 20 when they would be destroyed in the eternal lake of fire.
They knew …“The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil”.
The word “destroy” means to “render powerless.” When Jesus died on the cross, he “pulled the plug” on Satan. In this present age Satan seems to be very powerful, but he cannot do anything without God’s express permission. He is like Samson shorn of his locks, unable to do anything on his own. The day is coming when his utter impotence will be revealed to the universe and those who followed him will discover that they were following a toothless lion..
We have to turn to Luke and Matthew for the details of the temptation. Jesus is driven by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness. There Satan himself tempted the Son of God to change the rules and achieve his goals by a dazzling, short cut method. Our eternal destiny as human beings hung in the balance.
Jesus ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them He was hungry. He was vulnerable. A physical need needed to be met. And so the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread. It’s a quick fix.
The temptation was a reasonable response to Jesus’ hunger. He had power over nature. And stones were abundant there in the wilderness. He could use his extraordinary gifts to meet his physical needs. In other words… Satan is suggesting I know who you are… “you don’t want people to starve do you?” You can solve all the world’s hunger problem…let me help you. In other words… just use your power and you can solve world hunger. “If you are God, then dazzle me. Act like God.”
But Jesus knew that was not what he was sent to do. He was sent to do the work of His Father. He was to complete the promise of the angel to Mary and Joseph. Do you remember: “you shall give him the name Jesus because he will save His people from their sins….. He will be “Emmanuel….” God with us. So, Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”