Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Heb. 2:14 “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;”
“Took” means that Jesus voluntarily chose to become a man, it was not something forced upon Him. He wanted to accomplish a mission, to achieve a goal. He desired to pay the penalty for sin, and be a substitute for sinners under the sentence of death. This purpose could not be fulfilled by living a perfect life, by being a great teacher, by being an example, or by miraculous deeds. The objective could only be accomplished by His death.
Jesus therefore had to find a way to die. God cannot die, but a man can. Thus, to fulfill His desired mission, Jesus became a man. It was the only way He could die, and His death was essential. The cross displayed the love of the Father (JN 3:16), and redeemed sinners (I TM 1:15). It also dealt with another realm of beings, Satan and his legions. Jesus died to glorify God, redeem men, and destroy the power of the Devil.
The word “destroy” means to bring to naught, to render impotent. Satan and his cohorts are still alive, but they have been dealt a pulverizing blow by Jesus. This was no small accomplishment. Do not underestimate the power of Satan. Our text says he had the power of death. That means he was the means of bringing death into the world. There would have been no death had there been no devil.
Satan lurked nearby when man was created and heard God declare, “If you eat, you will die.” Sin’s penalty would be death, a punishment appropriate to the crime. “Death!”—Angels gasped at the word, and Adam breathed a solemn sigh, but a thrill shot through one’s vile heart.
The diabolical friend saw a chance to defile man, God’s greatest creation. He saw a way to strike at God and man, causing pain for both. Had Satan left us alone, there would have been no rebellion, and we would have never died. But the Devil could not resist the opportunity to stab at us. “Death!”—The though was intoxicating. No one had ever seen it before, or knew what it looked like, or how it felt. But if it were the penalty for sin, it must be terrible, and that excited Satan.
The great liar tempted men by slandering God. Man yielded, and thereby death entered our world. Soon, Abel’s dead corpse revealed for the first time what Satan had wrought. God was appalled, angels aghast, Adam and Eve heartbroken. They were suffering sin’s worst grief, except for Hell itself. I wonder how long it took Adam and Eve to realize fully what had happened and their sin.
God and man were groaning and travailing, but Satan was thrilled. Their pain brought him pleasure. He reveled in their misery. Life had been ripped from a body, and Satan enjoyed the mutilation. Rightly did Jesus call Satan a murder (JN 8:44).Never before had Satan had such hellish joy. Standing over the lifeless body of Abel, Satan admired for the first time his masterpiece, death. It was a crowning moment for his dominion. It gave him a thrill, a high, the sensation was intoxicating.
Satan’s delight in the misery of others was more than God could tolerate. The hissing dragon would have to be dealt with harshly and decisively. God could have arrayed Himself with majesty and terror, but didn’t. Nor did He send troops of angels into battle to trample Satan beneath their feet. The Lord didn’t even shoot arrows at the Devil from the heights.
God wanted not only to defeat Satan, but also to humiliate him before all the creation. God wanted to embarrass him. He wanted Satan to grind his teeth and grovel in the dust.
To bring great shame and dishonor upon the Devil, God chose to defeat him in Satan’s own kingdom. God humbled Himself and quietly entered this world of sin as a babe in swaddling clothes.
This Godchild made Satan drool. “God’s Son, what a prize!” Satan lusted for something even more exhilarating than the death of me; the ultimate high—the death of God in the flesh.
With glee Satan incited a deranged comrade, Herod, to slaughter all the children in Bethlehem under two years of age. The massacre was too late. The God-baby had escaped to Egypt.
Satan did not give up. He knew the boy child would return. His murder would then be easily accomplished because Herod’s vile son, Archelaus, was the new ruler of Judea. However, God warned Joseph in a dream, and the child was taken not to Judea, but to the peaceful environs of Galilee.
Frustrated, the dragon had to bide his time. He intently watched the boy grow into a man. The passing of time allowed his devious mind to hatch a diabolical thought, “Maybe there would be one thing more thrilling than the death of God’s Son. What would it be like to have Him bow in worship before me?” Satan followed Jesus into a wilderness and tempted Him in vain. With his pride a bit shaken the Devil returned to his original plan—assassination.
At Nazareth, Satan gathered a crowd of his evil devotees around Jesus. They threw Him out of the city and carried him to the top of a cliff, intending to cast him down headlong. But He passing through the midst of them went His way (LK 4:29-30).
Satan was a bit unnerved. He could see that He had a formidable foe on his hands. He headed for the capital city, Jerusalem, and called upon his “friends in high places.” It is good to have influential friends. The chief priests and Pharisees sent their soldiers to arrest Jesus, but they returned empty-handed and said, “Never man spake like this man” (JN 7:46). The disgruntled dragon agitated the whole temple crowd to take up stones to kill Jesus, but He hid Himself and went through their midst (JN 8:59).
Satan was furious and soon had the same crowd taking up stones again to kill Him. This time they were stopped by the power of His words (JN 10:31). With total frustration, Satan riled the crowd one more time, but again to no avail (JN 10:39).
Satan was determined to press the matter to a conclusion. The issue had to be resolved. He found a man of a like mind as himself and entered him (JN 13:27). However, as soon as he entered the man, Jesus commanded, “That thou doest, do quickly.” That was startling. Satan thought of himself as in control of this situation, but the victim was issuing orders as if He were in charge.
In fact, the victim had been in charge all along. Jesus had not been fleeing death through the years. He had merely been waiting for God’s time and place. Jesus had always planned to die, for in that way He could shame the dragon in his own lair.
God’s victory would be won in the evil one’s kingdom, and also be won with the Devil’s own weapon. Satan’s pride and joy was death. It is his strongest and sharpest weapon. This very sword was chosen by God to bring about Satan’s downfall.
Satan must have been surprised at the ease with which Jesus’ death was finally accomplished. In merely a handful of hours, death’s cold hand gripped His heart. He gave Himself up so quickly that Satan hardly had time to enjoy the scene. That was for the best. There was no need for him to get his hopes up.
Jesus looked defeated, but looks can be deceiving. Jesus had died solely that death might do its worst in vain. Satan’s triumph was short. Demons thought they had destroyed Jesus, but He had destroyed them. Satan soon discovered that Jesus had hidden powers. The dragon realized too late that he had a destroyer in his own lair.
Our Friend devastated the Fiend. The Conqueror who did fall, by His fall did conquer all. God’s victory chariot rolled into the grave. Jesus leaped on board, chained Satan to the wheel, and dragged the dragon through the dust with disdain.
At the tomb’s mouth, Jesus stepped down from His chariot, and took a world-changing stride from the realm of the dead to the world of the living. That last step was taken off Satan’s head. Satan’s brow provided the launching pad for Jesus’ exit form death. When you face death, God grant you to get Satan’s head under your heel. May your last leap from Earth be taken from the serpent’s head, and may the last sound you hear be the crunch of his vile skull.