17 June 2014

Satan, Christ, us: an exercise in perspective

by Dan Phillips

In my reading of Luke, I was bowled over afresh by the unimaginable, mind-blowing audacity of Luke 4:7 — "If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours."

This being who is speaking knows who he is talking to. The religious leaders didn't, the masses didn't, Jesus' own brothers didn't. His parents had at least a glimmer. Even His own students would be slow in putting everything together, and then only by an act of divine revelation.

But the speaker knew. Satan knew.

He was fully aware that he is talking to the Second Person of the Trinity, to God incarnate. His minions just could not keep their mouths shut about that fact (Mark 3:11). He had the facts, whatever nightmare tangle he'd since made of them. He was aware that this one before him created heaven and earth, was the Father's dear Son, had the real right to rule over all.

And yet, hear him speak here! Listen to him. Just try to wrap your mind around what he is trying to do, what he presents as his grand offer to the Son.

Satan clearly actually strikes the pose that he can cut a deal with the Son, that his proposition just might swerve Jesus from the course His Father assigned Him. If he went for Satan's alternative, Jesus would not redeem mankind, would not fulfill the Father's will, would not execute the eternal counsel of the Trinity, would not set in motion the eventual redemption of the universe — all because of this little bauble Satan dangles before Him.

And even the bauble was created by the One he addresses. In fact, in those words of v. 6 (ἐμοὶ παραδέδοται, "to me it has been handed over") — by whom were these things delivered (Col 1:16)?

If Satan can stand in front of Jesus and talk this way without dissolving into a quivering puddle of abject "please-don't-destroy-me" terror, what can we suppose that we represent to him? How must he see us?

What an incentive not to allow the least little bit of daylight between us and the Lord. Facing an adversary of this magnitude of sheer hubris, we are no match. We can only do as our Lord did, and stand on Scripture — and, by means of Scripture, stand really, really close to Him (John 14:21, 23; cf. Eph. 6:10ff.).

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Dale Wilson said...

Reminds me (tangentially) of an article a few weeks ago on the HuffPost in which the author declared he was "breaking up with Jesus." The audacity to believe he was in a relationship of equals demonstrates he has no idea who Jesus really is. Imagine if he had inserted an accurate description of Jesus in place of his name. "I am breaking up with my Creator, the Lord of the Universe, the eternal God." Then it sounds ridiculous. As a former "Christian" he was likely taught those things about Jesus, but this demonstrates he never truly believed them. Or, as Romans teaches, he suppressed the knowledge of those truths.

DebbieLynne7 said...

I'd never thought of the hubris Satan exhibited here. Really quite breathtaking!

trogdor said...

So you're saying that a ministry based on "I bind thee, Satan!" might be a bad idea?

Stephen said...

A hermeneutics teacher I know made the scolding lesson that the point of Christ' temptations is not that by imitating Christ and knowing our bible verses really, really, really well we can withstand the devil...but that we lean not on our own understanding but on Christ' overcoming as the only one who has power over all the universe.

Michael Coughlin said...