The Devil Did Not Want Jesus to Die on the Cross

Now the standard assumption (particularly among the unchurched, but also among believers) is that the devil thought he was spoiling God’s plans by getting Jesus arrested, kangaroo trialed and crucified. After all, with the Son of God dead, how could God bring about His kingdom on earth?

Fitting into this view would be the notion that the devil was piqued and carried a grudge after failing to tempt Jesus over to the dark side during ‘the temptation of Jesus’ (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13 and Luke 4:1-13). “Why, if Jesus won’t side with the me, I’ll see that He won’t be able to side with anybody!” All very The Empire Strikes Back, no?

But here’s the thing. Go back to that passage of Scripture. Before the devil tries to convince Jesus to side with him, he tries to get Jesus to use His divine authority for His own ends – perhaps because this would ‘hook’ Jesus onto the feeling of power and control. What does the devil do to try and justify Jesus using those powers?

That’s right – the devil quotes Scripture!

“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

This is a quote of Psalm 91:11-12 (but notice the devil doesn’t continue with verse 13, which mentions trampling the serpent – perhaps a parallel of Genesis 3:15? The devil must be a high roller to cite such a risky passage!)

Thus it is clear that the devil knows the Scripture (the Old Testament) well enough to be able to craft his strategy to tempt Jesus. And the Scripture is all about God’s plan to redeem mankind through the Messiah (Luke 24:25-27). Wouldn’t the devil then also be fully aware that the Messiah would have to suffer and die in order to save the fallen world? (Read that portion of Luke!)

Let’s take a look at Matthew 16:21-23:

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

The usual explanation of the above is that Peter was being presumptuous to think he knew better than Jesus what the Messiah would go through. But might Jesus’ fierce rebuke also be telling? Did the devil influence Peter in order to try and persuade Jesus away from the road to Golgotha?

In fact, two films conjecture this sort of scenario.

First is The Passion of the Christ, which opens with Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemene. His heart troubled because of all the suffering He knows He will have to endure, suddenly a shady figure appears and lets slither a serpent – indicating that the figure is supposed to be the devil. Jesus seems to deliberate for a moment, but then responds by literally crushing the serpent’s head ala Genesis 3:15, thus rejecting the devil’s offer.

Then, all the way at the end of the film, Jesus breathes His last breath on the cross, and the devil is shown screaming in impotent rage at heaven. Hence the offer at the start of the film was likely an easy way out of the suffering of the cross.

Clearly, this non-canonical artistic insertion is meant to show that the devil was trying to tempt Jesus away from the cross one last time, and when Jesus finally did die on the cross, the devil was keenly aware of the breaking of the power of sin.

The other film is the controversial The Last Temptation of Christ. While it was heavily criticized for portraying Jesus in a manner considered highly insulting by Christians, here I’m focusing on its major plot twist.

The film imagines what would have happened if Jesus did not accept the cross, but rather married Mary Magdalene and retired to a quiet, happy life. (Well, Mary at first, then other women simultaneously too – see why it’s considered controversial?)

But much later, an aged Jesus regrets His selfish choice. As He cries out to the Father in regret, suddenly He is back on the cross – it was all a dream incurred by the physical exhaustion of crucifixion (and a very last attempt at temptation by the devil, hence the film title). Jesus had overcome the temptation to escape the cross.

Thus we see that the film also strongly suggests that the devil’s goal is to prevent Jesus from sacrificing Himself.

(On a side note, see my post on how Jesus showed incredible restraint throughout His arrest, trial, torture and crucifixion – He could have invoked His boundless power at any time, but consciously allowed Himself to be killed.)

And that’s my view on the matter. Tell me what you think.

21 Responses to “The Devil Did Not Want Jesus to Die on the Cross”

  1. menj Says:

    So all you have as “proof” for the alleged crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, peace be upon him, is quoting from the Bible which is where the story originally came from in the first place.

    That is called circular reasoning. Even the two movies you cited also relied on the Bible (or to be more specific, the New Testament) for its source. Question is, which “New Testament do you regard as “canon”? The one you have today? Or the one that Marcion had? Or the one that included the Gospel of Judas?

    So many questions, so little answers :mrgreen:

  2. Simon Thong Says:

    I read this blog, and couldn’t see where Scott was trying to prove the reality of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. If there isn’t any argument, can there be circularity? You’re howling up the wrong tree, duke.

    Which New testament? There is only one, and you can read it in the new KJV or the International Bible.

    Marcion? Marcion of Sinope, one of the most prominent heretics in early Christianity? Haha. That’s worth only this mention.

    The Gospel of Judas? Gnostic gospel that purportedly documents conversations between the Apostle Judas Iscariot and Jesus Christ? Hahahaha. Forget it.

    Bring more substantial heavier to the table. Tea spoons won’t do. Got Chinese chop sticks?

  3. Ron Says:

    Heretic: a person who holds religious beliefs in conflict with my own.

  4. Simon Thong Says:

    Christian: heretic to the atheist and agnostic

  5. Scott Thong Says:

    So all you have as “proof” for the alleged crucifixion, death and resurrection of Christ Jesus, peace be upon him, is quoting from the Bible which is where the story originally came from in the first place. – menj

    Welcome back, menj! It’s been a full 4 years and 4 months since I assume you last commented here. How’d that blog post get along anyhow?

    Hope to have you here as a regular, I’m sure we’ll all find lots to get along on – what with several atheists (Ron and sometimes Robert, Sane), Muslims (Nasaei and loop) and Christians (Simon and Zack) actively debating here.

    In any case, here are some non-Biblical mentions:

    Jewish historian Josephus wrote of Jesus that “Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned him to be crucified…”

    Roman historian Tacitus wrote of the founder of the Christian religion: “Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.”

    Roman-Syrian satirist Lucian wrote that “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account…”

    The Talmud states the following about Jesus’ following, criminal charges, and method and time of execution: “On the eve of the Passover, Yeshu was hanged. Forty days before the execution took place, a herald went forth and cried: “He is going forth to be stoned because he has practiced sorcery and enticed Israel to apostasy. Any one who can say anything in his favour, let him come forward and plead on his behalf.” But since nothing was brought forward in his favour he was hanged on the eve of the Passover.“ (Hanged can also refer to being hung from a cross by nails.)

    There you go. So little questions, so many answers. Good deal yes? But as a seasoned polemic, I’m sure you have refutations of the above already in mind.

  6. menj Says:

    “Welcome back, menj! It’s been a full 4 years and 4 months since I assume you last commented here. How’d that blog post get along anyhow?”

    I don’t even remember commenting here, but after rereading it, its an issue which has already been dealt with here.

    So in a sense, that promise has indeed been fulfilled.

  7. menj Says:

    “In any case, here are some non-Biblical mentions”

    The Josephus account is generally recognised as a fraud passage by scholars, since it was written centuries after Josephus wrote his “Antiquities of the Jews”. As for the Talmudic account, I find it rather ironic that you have to resort to a text which demeans Jesus, peace be upon him. That same book also accuses Jesus of being the son of a bastard and that his mother Mary, peace be upon her, is a whore. Would you accept those accounts as factual too?

  8. menj Says:

    Addressing the other “thong” (please excuse the pun):

    “Which New testament? There is only one, and you can read it in the new KJV or the International Bible.”

    Which was sanctioned as canon starting from the Council of Nicea onwards (3rd century CE) and even then, it has continuously went through various redactions and changes. What about the Christians who had other canons BEFORE the 3rd century CE?

    “Marcion? Marcion of Sinope, one of the most prominent heretics in early Christianity? Haha. That’s worth only this mention.”

    You call him a heretic, but the 1st – 2nd century Christians certainly didn’t seem to think so.

    “The Gospel of Judas? Gnostic gospel that purportedly documents conversations between the Apostle Judas Iscariot and Jesus Christ? Hahahaha. Forget it.”

    How easily for you to dismiss something which is historically even older than any of the NT books you have now. Your argument is hardly something intellectual.

  9. Scott Thong Says:

    I only remembered that someone using the handle menj had commented before because it is quite a unique name.

  10. menj Says:

    Well, it was me alright. I must be getting old since I don’t recall leaving that comment but yes, it was I who wrote it.

  11. Scott Thong Says:

    Great! But the link provided wasn’t your blog.

  12. menj Says:

    It used to be my blog until I converted it into a forum. This is my blog now.

  13. menj Says:

    That’s my personal blog. While it may be Islamically-inclined, it pales in comparison to my other sites focused on Islamic issues.

    And speaking of your blogroll, you might want to clean it up a bit. Jeff Ooi and Ali Rustam, for example, do not have blogs anymore.

  14. Scott Thong Says:

    Thanks for the advice… I do have a bit of a pack rat problem, so I collect lots of links and stuff that I forget is there (Ali who???).

  15. Truth Says:

    It is true many people including Christians assume that the devil was having a party when Jesus had been crucified but this is not what scripture says. The question here is not whether to accept or reject the word of God as true rather that many people read what they want to read rather than what scripture says. This is precisley why the Bible admonishes Christians to study to show yourself approved a workman that needeth not be ashamed rightly diving the word of God.

  16. Michael Says:

    OK – I just breezed through your article and read a few comments – but what I’m presently thinking is this: According to the Scriptures, Satan did not want Jesus to go to the cross (Mark 9:31-33). Apparently, the enemy knew the Scriptures and knew what would happen if Jesus were to be that “atonement for sin.” The Scriptures were filled with passages of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Read Luke 24:6-8 and 25-27, 44-46. Jesus rebuked the disciples for not only disregarding the words of the O.T. Scriptures (that spoke of His death and resurrection), but also disregarding His own words on this subject when He was with them. Jesus would not rebuke his disciples for something which they were not responsible to know. Why would Jesus rebuke them if the writings of His death and resurrection were hidden? Speaking of responsibility, if Satan was not responsible for Jesus’ death, who was? God the Father was (read Isaiah 53:4, 10), Jesus Himself was (John 10:17 & 18). This last thought is a speculation: The question is: if Jesus was tempted to avoid the cross, who then was tempting Him to do so? And why?

  17. Scott Thong Says:

    I believe for that question, my vote is for the Devil – as the sacrifice on the cross breaks sin’s power over humanity.

    This is alluded to in the History Channel miniseries btw, when the Devil (Obama’s doppelganger lol) tempts Jesus in the wilderness, the offer to bow down and worship the Devil in exchange for the world – Jesus being venerated with people at His feet – is contrasted with flashes of the crucifixion if He continues on with God’s plan -soldiers nailing down His feet.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    Jesus is a filthy scumbag.

  19. Ramon Bayron Says:

    hi Scott interesting post, to say the least. my short question; in Matthew 16:21-23 Satan, through Peter, expressed its discouragement for JESUS to die on the cross, as your posted. However in Luke 22:3–6, “Satan entered Judas Iscariot” for JESUS to be arrested and crucified, as it did in the Bible verses. How do you connect the two incidents? Satan tells Jesus to not die vis-a-vis Satan led Judas to act vs Jesus and die? Advance thanks for your reply. Bliss! 🙂

  20. Scotttcast Says:

    Oh, actually many years after this blog post, I have come to reverse my stance – the devil did NOT know that Messiah must be crucified. As I explain at 27:56 of this video:

  21. K. J. Silo Says:

    Scott Thong, you brought up some excellent points. While I do agree that the devil was trying to tempt the Lord Jesus not to go to the cross because he knew of its legal implication (sin would have been atoned for), I also believed that the devil wanted the Lord Jesus to die on the cross even if it meant that sin would be atoned for, because Satan thought that at least he could get rid of the Son of God that way. This is why Satan entered Judas for the Lord’s betrayal. For Satan, if Jesus did not die on the cross, he remains the legal owner of the world, and if Jesus did die, at least He would be dead. It was a win-win situation for Satan, at least that is what he thought.

    What Satan did not know was that the Lord Jesus would rise again from the dead. I think that was the surprise for him. You mentioned films, and I want to mention C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. The White Witch rejoiced to see Aslan die (a depiction of Christ) only to be disappointed when she saw Aslan alive again. Not only did Christ atone for the sins of the world, but He also redeemed and reversed nature’s curse.

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