16: Satan's Defeat
Satan had tried to tempt Jesus, and Jesus had steadfastly resisted. Still, satan was not ready to give up hope.
He took Jesus to the holy city and climbed to the top of the temple with Him. As Jesus stood on the roof of the temple, He could see the land around Jerusalem. He stood there between heaven and earth, between God and man.
The tempter made a cunning suggestion to Jesus: "If You are God's Son, throw Yourself down from above. It is written that God will command His angels to bear You on their hands so that Your foot will not be dashed against the stones."
That certainly sounded pious! Satan knew the Scriptures. He thought he had hit on just the right approach to overcome Jesus. Jesus had said that He wanted to trust in His Father. Well then, let Him show by this action how much He trusted.
Jesus knew perfectly well that the Father would always preserve Him. When wicked Herod tried to kill Him, the Father had saved Him. When the wild beasts prowled around Him, the Father had protected Him. If He had fallen off the temple, His Father's angels would surely have caught Him before He hit the ground.
But if He threw Himself off the temple, He would be deliberately endangering His life. By seeking danger, He would be forcing God to perform a miracle. Was that obedience? Was that trust?
Indeed, He was God's Son, but He did not have to prove that to satan. Satan knew that perfectly well, and he trembled at Jesus.
Calmly Jesus replied, "It is also written, `You shall not tempt the Lord your God!' " Then He walked to the stairs and climbed down from the temple. Satan's second attack had also been stopped with the help of God's Word.
Satan's foolish hopes still were not extinguished. He went up a high mountain with Jesus and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in some miraculous manner. He did not let Jesus see all the misery he had caused everywhere. All he showed Jesus was the glory of the world's kingdoms.
The Savior had come to earth to save the world. He would do this by giving Himself to the world. He would follow a long, difficult road of scorn and shame, of pain and suffering, in obedience unto death. After that He would be King over the whole world.
Perhaps it could be done in a different way. Perhaps Jesus could become King of the entire world in an instant, without suffering and dying. It all hinged on forgetting God.
Satan whispered, "I will give all of this to You—provided that You bow down and worship me."
Jesus did not hesitate for a moment. He turned around and said, "Get away from Me, satan, for it is also written, 'You shall worship the Lord your God and serve Him only.—
Satan trembled and fled, leaving the Savior in peace for a while. Now he knew that Jesus was stronger than he was, and that Jesus would someday strip him of his power. Yes, one day satan would have to kneel before Jesus!
The outcome in the barren wilderness was different from the outcome in Paradise. In Paradise Adam was driven out, but here satan was defeated and driven out. In Paradise satan had caused a curse to fall on Adam and his descendants. But now, out in the wilderness, blessing had the upper hand again. When Jesus was alone, God's angels descended from heaven. They surrounded their Lord and served Him.
One day the whole world would know that Christ had defeated satan and won a great victory for His people.