I usually spend a great deal of time working on an Easter article. It is always a precious time of year for me. In the past few years, sales some of the articles I have written are The Folded Napkin, All Is Lost, All Is Found, and Silent Saturday. If you would like to read these articles, then hook up with my web site www.tmoments.com. This year I did not have a particular thought in mind until the other day when the Lord put on my heart a great desire to talk about the six trials He suffered through before being put on the cross. I think He pressed this subject upon me as He knew I was struggling – certainly, not to the magnitude He did in those courtrooms two thousand years ago, but struggling none the less.
Unlike my other articles, where applications were drawn at the end of each article with a memorable illustration called the Teachable Moment, most of my applications will be drawn as I go this time. Also, this article on Jesus and His trials will be broken down into two parts. You will receive the second in a few days; hopefully, right before Easter. The two parts contain two major divisions: the first dealing with Satan’s influence (Part I), and the second examines each of the six trials with some concluding thoughts (Part II).
In preparation for Part II, I encourage you to read each of the six trials. They are recorded in the following accounts: Trial 1 – Before Annas (John 18:13-14; 19-23), Trial 2 – Before Caiaphas, the Scribes, and Elders (Matthew 26:57), Trial 3 – Before the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66-71), Trial 4 – Before Pilate (John 18:28-38; Luke 23:5), Trial 5 – Before Herod (Luke 23:8-12), and Trial 6 – Before Pilate a second time (John 18: 39-16; Matthew 27:24-26).
Examination of Satan, the one behind the six trials
Was, or is, Satan real?
Before we look at each of the trials Jesus endured, a brief examination of Satan is necessary because he was behind all six of them. Some contend that Satan is not real, never has been, and is only made up to personify our evil deeds. But that is wishful thinking, because according to Scripture, Satan is a real being, created by God just as you and I have been. He can think, talk, act and move around at will. Although he started out well, he ended up as the worst created being to ever exist. He is filled with unquenchable rebellion, murder, lies, and self-glory. His singular goal is to destroy God and His kingdom, so that all creation will come to worship and serve him (Isaiah 14:12-17; Ezekiel 28:14).
The Scripture records Jesus dialoguing with Satan at least twice during His days on earth, however there were likely many more such instances. As John put it in his Gospel, it would be very difficult to record everything Jesus did; it would take volumes to do so (John 21:25). The first verbal engagement between Jesus and Satan came during the desert temptations, and the last one was right before Jesus went to His six trials when Satan sought permission to test Peter (Matthew 4:3-4; Luke 22:31-32). If Jesus talked with him, and considered him real, then he was, and is, still quite real today.
Did Satan understand what he was doing?
What was Satan thinking by pushing the six trials onto Jesus, along with the accompanying abuse, humiliation, and final crucifixion? If anything he should have gone in the opposite direction, keeping Jesus as far away from the cross as possible – for it was at the cross where Satan would suffer his biggest defeat because man’s sin would be forgiven and atoned for through Christ’s death (I Peter 2:24; Colossians 1:13-14). With sin (passive or active rebellion against God) taken care of, Satan’s hold over man was crushed, at least for those who accepted Christ’s forgiveness by putting their faith in Him (Genesis 3:14-15; Ephesians 2:16; Acts 26:18). Even though this great victory at the cross took place two thousand years ago, its forgiveness applied to all men, women, and children throughout every century – past, present, and the future. For those who lived before Christ and the cross, their faith was based on a coming Savior (Messiah) as exampled by many Israelites who lived in the Old Testament times (Romans 4:3; Luke 5:19-20; I Corinthians 1:18). Those living during Jesus’ time were saved by faith in a present Christ. And for all the generations since Christ’s first coming, they are saved by a faith that looks back.
So, in respect to this, was Satan’s understanding of the crucifixion so skewed and twisted, due to his own indwelling sin, that he did not see sending Jesus to the cross would lead to his own ruin? Or did Satan know what the cross would do, but was not sure Jesus would follow through if tortured and rejected to the extreme? Although Satan was hardly omniscient (all knowing) like God, he probably knew Jesus could call down a multitude of angels to stop His torture at any time. Matthew recorded in His Gospel that 12 legions of angels were ready and willing to do so at Jesus’ command(Matthew 26:51-54). Little did Satan know that Jesus would never do this, because the salvation of man was more important to Him than saving Himself. So, the religious leaders were allowed to trump up false charges against Him during six trials; the soldiers were given freedom to repeatedly beat Him to a pulp; and the multitude of foolish Jews who yelled “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” were permitted to openly reject Him, not realizing that at any time 72,000 angels could swoop down and wipe them out in an instant (Mark 15:11-14).
Therefore, as we go through each of the six trials in Part II of this study, keep in mind the power Jesus had – a power He didn’t use because He had a greater purpose and plan in mind. Perhaps, one day you will undergo a trial where you will have the power to hurt back, but before you do, store what you are about to learn in your mind and heart.
When you have trials, is it because of you or Satan?
Finally, let me pose a last question. How do you know, or determine, if the trial you are going through is a result of your own doing or from Satan? In my experience, I have found Christians who go to both extremes in answering this question. One group hardly recognizes the power and influence of Satan in their trials, while others blame Satan for everything. The Scripture actually supports both approaches, but not to the extremes these Christians purport. Sometimes trials do come as a result of one’s own actions, as Paul shares in Romans 7. In this passage he described a great personal battle he had with sin, but never attributes any of it to Satan during his struggle. Yet, in many other Scriptures, as exampled by Peter, Satan was the culprit behind many of the trials.
For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:19-20, 24-25
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. I Peter 1:8-9
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthens your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32
In conclusion, the key to surviving a trial, whether it results from your own actions or that of a Satanic strategy, is to determine its origin and then act accordingly. If the trial originates from you, it is most likely due to something sinful, wrong, or selfish you did. If this is the case, then ask God to forgive you and get back on the track to doing His will. You may struggle like most of us with such a confession, but don’t delay. Make things right with God, and He will in turn help you make things right with others. On the other hand, if your trial is from Satan, you will be hard-pressed to identify a particular sin equal to the trial you are going through. In this case, seek the Scripture for wisdom as to how to handle the trial. The study of the six trials of Jesus are passages to grab a hold of. In addition to this, seek wisdom and direction from mature Christian friends and family members. They are a great source as it is likely they have encountered what you are going through.
God Speed, and remember Part II of this article will arrive in few days. Have a great week.
Isaiah 14:12-17 “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations! 13But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ 15Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit. 16Those who see you will gaze at you, they will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, who shook kingdoms, 17who made the world like a wilderness and overthrew its cities, who did not allow his prisoners to go home?'”
Ezekiel 28:14-15 14“You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there. You were on the holy mountain of God; you walked in the midst of the stones of fire. 15You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created. Until unrighteousness was found in you.”
John 21:25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.
Matthew 4:3-4 3And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.” 4But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.'”
Luke 22:31-32 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
I Peter 2:24 and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.
Colossians 1:13-14 13For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Genesis 3:14-15 14The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust you will eat all the days of your life; 15and I will put enmity between you (Satan) and the woman (mankind), and between your seed and her seed; He (Christ) shall bruise you on the head, and you (Satan) shall bruise him on the heel.”
Ephesians 2:16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.
Acts 26:18 ‘to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’
Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Luke 5:19-20 19But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus. 20Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.”
I Corinthians 1:18 For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Matthew 26:51-54 51And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. 53Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”
Mark 15:11-14 11But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to ask him to release Barabbas for them instead. 12Answering again, Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Him whom you call the King of the Jews?” 13They shouted back, “Crucify Him!” 14But Pilate said to them, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they shouted all the more, “Crucify Him!”