Retelling an old story for the Easter season . . .
Tiptoeing past snoring disciples ~ the ones Jesus had asked to pray with Him ~ Satan paused before the King of Kings. With hair matted and clothes soaked in blood-tinged sweat, He looked more like a vagrant than a king. He clung to the rock, His hands grasping outcrops as if this boulder were His lifeline. It was obvious He was praying which made Satan snort in disgust.
Satan nudged His side with a sandaled foot. Jesus shuttered slightly, then raised His head to look into the face of His archenemy. Squinting, Satan eyed his rival warily. Jesus sure didn’t look like a king. His face streaked with a mix of dust and tears. For all the world it appeared that Satan had the upper hand. This was going to be the easiest battle yet, Satan thought to himself. I plan to take full advantage of His weakness and pound Him into submission once and for all! If this was the final showdown in a long string of battles over the ages, Satan was not about to lose this one. The position he had coveted since the beginning would be his at last.
Standing over his hollow-eyed rival, Satan almost felt pity . . . but not quite. “Hey, Man,” he sneered. “You’re a mess! I should’ve at least brought you a change of clothes. You look awful . . . compared to me,” he boasted, thumping his chest. Pointing to the sleeping disciples he added, “You don’t need to worry about them. Some faithful friends they turned out to be.” Getting to the point of this visit, Satan challenged, “You and I both know I’m the one in charge down here so why don’t you skedaddle back home to Daddy. There’s no need for both of us to be here. I have things perfectly under control.” Satan continued the taunts with an evil smirk on his face, “You know, Man, I’ve never really understood why you’d want to risk your life on lowly earthlings anyway. Go home where you belong and leave the “dung of the earth” in my capable hands. After all, they’ve been serving me all along anyway.”
Satan’s taunts meant nothing to Jesus. He was focused solely on completing His mission. Death was imminent and His heart was breaking. Could He endure the blackout? Could He keep His hold on His Father during their separation? For a few moments, He allowed His mind to wander back to His wilderness experience. After 40 days of fasting, the enemy showed up then, too. Knowing that Jesus was weak from hunger, Satan threw suggestions at Him, tempting Him to use His power to save Himself. That was the beginning of His ministry. This was the climax. His 30+ years of doing His Father’s will had prepared Him for this moment in time. He must not fail!
The battle to save humanity was over. Jesus bowed His head in submission to the purpose that brought Him from heaven to earth. Men with torches arrived. His “sheep” fled. Like a lamb, the Shepherd was led to His slaughter.
He willingly suffered and died. And He did that so that through God’s grace, He might taste death on behalf of everyone.
Were we worth it?
Jesus was thinking of His children that dreadful night. He remembered us as the whip sliced open His back. He remembered us when the mallet sank the crown of thorns into His flesh. During His horrific ordeal, He thought only of us, and He did not fail! The sinless One died for all the sins of the world, slept the sleep of death, and arose triumphantly! No evil power could stop Him! His mission completed, He returned to His Father but left His Spirit behind . . .
The Father is sending a great Helper, the Holy Spirit, in My name to teach you everything and to remind you of all I have said to you. My peace is the legacy I leave to you. I don’t give gifts like those of this world. Do not let your heart be troubled or fearful.
~ The pain of living pressured my firstborn to do the unthinkable ~
Fast forward to the shortened lives of our children: Satan taunts, cajoles, pushes, belittles, shames, and badgers earthlings into submission. The pain of living pressured my firstborn to take action against the pain in his mind and heart. It must have seemed like there was no way out of the blackness pressing him into hopelessness. I imagine the suffocating darkness descended upon him making it hard to breathe. In a moment of weakness ~ just as Satan showed up during Jesus’ weakest hour ~ I can picture evil showing up to taunt my son. I have no doubt both good and evil were represented as my son struggled. He was weary of the pain; he just wanted it to stop. Voices taunted him to end it. Greg chose to do just that and his suffering ended. Now he is at peace.
For me, here is where both stories, Jesus’ and mine, connect across the sands of time. Although Satan points out that my firstborn is guilty of “self-murder,” Jesus points to His scars. Because Jesus did not fail at the cross, my son has the opportunity to live again and this time it will be forever. This time it will be in heaven. This time there will never be another Satan to tempt him or anyone else. Because Satan did not get his way at Jesus’ tomb, he does not have the last word about death. Only Jesus, who paid for all the sins of mankind, has the last word. He alone has the power to wake up those who will be all brand new and ready to live again. This time forever really is f-o-r-e-v-e-r!
Easter is about sacrifice
Easter is about love
Easter is about hope
Hebrews 2:9b; John 14:26-27 shared from The Voice (VOICE)