Daley and I have been talking about the intentionality of Jesus Christ on Sunday mornings this summer with the First Colony Youth Group. We have especially emphasized Christ's "last week" before the crucifixion and resurrection. It's fascinating to see how Christ has specifically and intentionally taken control of His ministry in that last week, heading for Jersualem to face what He must have known was certain death. And yet, He resolutely surrendered His life. The Passion Week of Jesus Christ was no accidental happenstance. It wasn't just coincidence or luck or a strange alignment of the planets. It was Christ. He knew His mission and His purpose. And He acted on that purpose... working constantly for His Father even through fear, frustration, disappointment, regret, and even anger. Christ knew that God's purposes were far greater than His own.
This Sunday, Daley was out of town, and I led a discussion on the role of Satan in that last week. It seems natural to me that if Christ was being intentional in the last week, Satan was probably acting with equal intentionality. Which leads me to wonder, "What did Satan know about God's Messianic plan?" Was Satan aware of Christ's goals? Was Satan clued in to the existence of a resurrection? Did Satan know that Christ's death and subsequent raising from the dead was going to DRASTICALLY AFFECT his dastardly plans for humanity?
I'm not sure. It seems like Satan tries to both prevent Christ from going to the cross by overwhelming Him with grief AND to bring the cross quickly to Christ by inhabiting Judas and stirring up the crowds. Perhaps Satan knew the repercussions of his manipulating and influencing, but simply couldn't resist the carnal pleasure of seeing the Son of God murdered and physically destroyed. Hmm. That sounds familiar: knowing the consequences, acting anyway, etc.
Regardless of whether or not we know what Satan knew, I definitely know what he now knows. (Ha!) What he knows is this: Jesus Christ's death and resurrection changed EVERYTHING about our relationship with God. Here was my point on Sunday:
If Satan's master plan had always been to separate us from our God and Maker, then the resurrection didn't change the PLAN, as much as it did the TACTICS. Under the old covenant, all that was necessary to separate us from the love of God was sin. Sin. That's all it took. There was only law and sacrifice. And Satan revelled in the ease of separating us from our God. However, Christ changed that. All of a sudden, there was a weapon that Satan didn't expect: grace. Grace stumped Satan. For grace is a freely offered gift, no strings attached, no prerequisites, no repayment plans. Grace is given. We are redeemed.
So, what can Satan do to combat this development? He sees the beautifully wrapped gift of grace sitting on the table in front of us and he starts to sweat. He cannot touch the gift. He can't move it. He can't hide it. He can't stand in front of it. What does he do? He works with all of his might to prevent us from accepting the gift, from understanding that we can simply reach out and take it. That is Satan's battle strategy under the new covenant. He strives unceasingly to make me feel like I am not worthy to accept the gift, to distract me from seeing my need for the gift, to convince me that taking it is more trouble than it's worth, to delude me into making the gift more complicated than it is, and so on and so on. I could keep going; the excuses are endless.
The point is: WHAT IS KEEPING YOU FROM REACHING OUT AND TAKING THIS GIFT? Whatever it is, it's a lie from Satan. Identify it as such immediately. The gift is right there. We can see it and touch it and experience it. Satan can do nothing to stop us. All he can do is convince us to stop ourselves.
Not me. I choose the gift. And I pray that I can hold onto it tightly, through every kind of storm. And I pray that, as I open it and look inside, its loving mystery envelops me and transforms every crevice and corner of my life.
Master plan of Satan: exposed. Deal with THAT.