Summary: Jesus died on the cross to defeat Satan and to set us free to live for God.
We are counting down to Easter. It’s the highest day in the church year. However, there is only one way to arrive at the empty tomb of Easter Sunday. We need to travel to Jesus’ cross.
We are discovering the blessings we receive because Jesus died on the cross. These blessings are often called by one name – the atonement. There are several explanations of how the atonement works. There are at least seven because “there is an essential mystery about the atonement, so that men cannot know completely how it works.”
Citation: Leon Morris in Basic Christian Doctrines, edited by Carl F. H. Henry, Baker Book House, 1962
The great Reformer, Martin Luther wrote a powerful hymn entitled, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The third verse in our hymnal declares, “And though this world with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear….” (emphasis added)
Jesus defeated Satan and set us free.
How did Jesus’ death defeat Satan and the forces of evil?
Shortly after God put Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Satan appeared to tempt them. He lied to them about God, about the results of disobeying God and about how they could become like God. As a result, they surrendered themselves and all their descendents to the authority of Satan. We became his slaves – the citizens of his kingdom.
The apostle Paul declared this spiritual law of the universe in his letter to the Romans. “Do you not know that if you continually surrender yourselves to anyone to do his will, you are the slaves of him whom you obey…?” (Romans 6:16 AMP) Jesus said the same thing. “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” (John 8:34)
Adam and Eve, our first parents, rebelled against God, choosing to follow Satan’s lead. They became his slaves because they obeyed him.
So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)
And when the proper time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman … to set us free from Satan’s control. (Galatians 4:4)
Satan attacked Jesus with everything he could muster. He had King Herod exterminate all the little boys in Bethlehem, but God warned his parents and his Son was spared. Satan tempted Jesus as he had tempted Adam, but Jesus resisted his temptations for 33 years. He led a sinless life.
Finally, Satan gathered his forces of evil and ambushed Jesus. He sent in one wave after another. He started late on Thursday night and continued to late Friday afternoon.
• The conflict was so strong Jesus thought he might die. In fact the stress was so powerful that the tiny blood vessels in Jesus’ skin ruptured. He began to slowly bleed to death. His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. (Luke 22:44)
• One friend betrayed Jesus to his enemies. One friend denied ever knowing him. The rest disappeared into the night.
• His enemies lied about him, laughed at him and slapped him. Then, Satan had them turn Jesus over to the Roman soldiers who whipped him until his back was shredded down to the muscles and bones. The soldiers made a crown of thorns and continued to beat him and to laugh at him. They forced him to carry his cross to the executions site. They nailed him to the cross raised it up and let it drop into a hole in the ground.
• Satan’s minions continued to mock him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can't save himself! Let this Christ, this King of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him. These people refused to believe in Jesus in spite of all the miracles he had performed. They would not believe in him if he came down off the cross. They were simply serving as Satan's voice tempting him to rebel against God’s will for him.
• Through all this pain and anguish, Jesus remained faithful and obedient to God. Finally, he yelled, “Finished” and he died.
Satan thought he had won. BUT GOD (two of my favorite words) BUT GOD raised Jesus back to life on Sunday morning. Jesus defeated Satan and set us free.
The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. (1 John 3:8b)