The story of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion did not end on Friday. It did not end in death. Because it was early on Sunday morning – the very first day of the week – Jesus rose from the dead. The grave could not hold the King. He is risen. He is risen, indeed! Prior to this I could only imagine what His followers must’ve felt. Maybe something like ‘we lost’ or ‘now we really will face the tyranny of Rome for the remainder of our lives. How could we have ever believed that this man, was our Messiah?” Maybe they thought to themselves, “we watched Him perform miracle after the miracle, we thought He was the One. Now through the malice and hatred of Pharisee and Sadducee and through an angry mob we have all been knocked down.”
Let me say first and foremost, that the angry mob is still around today, here in the year 2013. And with their wicked words they will still try to hold you down, not only does this happen outside of the Church, sadly, it happens inside of the Church as well. The late Rev. Robert Miller Jr.used to put it this way, “There’s woodpeckers on the outside, and termites on the inside and they are both after your wood” for some reason or another there are people who just don’t want you to be what God called you to be. There are people in the choir who don’t want you to sing, and there are even preachers in the pulpit who don’t want other preachers to preach.
They will use whatever means necessary to hinder your ministry and all the while enhance their own. Yes, we are suppose be about lifting one another up, but we ourselves try to keep our brothers and sisters down and we have dangerously moved into satan’s area of expertise. For it was and still is satan’s mode of operation to keep the children of God down. If he tried to keep Jesus down, he will most certainly try and do the same to us. He has a strategy that at the moment seems to be working like a well-oiled machine.
1. Satan’s Plan Is Under the Radar
Satan is called by many names, such as, Devil, Adversary, Serpent, Dragon, Beelzebub, the father of lies, and the Enemy. These are just a few of his names, believe me, there are many more. Satan is evil incarnate, in other words, he is the embodiment of evil. Satan comes only to kill, steal, and destroy, but yet he falls under the radar. There are so many things that happen in our world today for which many people blame and curse God never realizing that God does not do evil; evil is the devil’s department.
In fact, there are people today who will vehemently argue you down that the devil doesn’t really exist and as result he can commit his evil deeds while going virtually unnoticed. But just the same satan hates God and he hates mankind. Because, not only did God defeat satan when he tried to invade heaven, but God also destroyed Satan’s earthly kingdom. To add insult to injury God recreated earth and created and placed man in dominion of the recreated earth. Satan actually was the very first ruler of earth—he ruled earth long before the six days of Genesis and the creation of Adam. When God created Adam and thus mankind, God intended for man to rule the earth. However, when satan caused Adam and Eve to sin, he illegally took possession (or repossession) of the earth. Satan was then under the belief that he had all power, he thought it would now be much easier for him to use the power of hell and death to threaten, influence, and destroy mankind. But he didn’t take into account that Jesus would come into the world, when Jesus came it was bad for him but wonderful for us.
Why? Because [Now] we have this [hope] as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul it cannot slip and it cannot break down under whoever steps out upon it–a hope that reaches farther and enters into the very certainty of the Presence within the veil, we are no longer faced with the threat of drifting away from God because we have Christ as our anchor. And from the very day that Christ entered the earth through a miraculous birth the devil has tried his best to keep Him and us down. But he (the devil) continuously discovers, that you just can’t keep a good man down! But it doesn’t mean he won’t try—he is an expert on attacking the children of God in order to keep them down. He’s in Church every Sunday, and at work with you Monday thru Friday. He will even follow you home and try to live there if he could.
2. Things Satan Does to People
Satan always attacks, he attacks individuals, he attacks groups of people, he attacks from behind, he attacks while you sleep, he attacks you in your dreams, he attacks you with anxiety, he attacks your physical body, he enters into people, he’s brought sickness to saints, he’s starved saints, he has tortured saints, he’s killed many, he attacks your mind, he blanks your mind, he will speak to you and change your mind. He confuses you and causes your head to become mixed up, he causes you to not know what to do, he keeps you from thinking clearly; he will attack you when you pray to, worship or praise God. In short, satan is a coward that will never hit you head on if you are a child of God. He prefers to sneak up on you from behind, or while you are sleeping. Satan will give you dreams (or imaginations) that will lead you to believe that you are greater than God, or that you can command God to do whatever it is that you want, in the pretence that you are serving God. He roams around looking for ways to bring adversity into our lives And all of this is done just to keep you and I down.
This is what he had done to the people who shouted, “Crucify Him!” he confused them and caused their heads to be mixed up. The same people who shouted, “Hosanna” is the same people who eventually wanted to eliminate the very Son of God. It is a fact that satan sometimes uses other people to bring you down, the old preachers used to say that “when satan enters the church house he usually doesn’t come in by himself—he uses someone else’s legs to move about and someone else’s arms to pack him in because he doesn’t have any legs or arms.” He’ll come into the pulpit or the pews in an attempt to bring a few people down. This is what happened leading up to the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ, satan entered into some select people. He entered into Judas Iscariot, and caused him to betray Jesus Christ for a monetary gain, and entered into Herod.
3. The secular rulers of His day
Herod didn’t wait until Jesus reached adulthood before trying to keep Him down, upon hearing about the birth of Jesus, Herod conducted what is known as the “The slaughter of the innocents” satan caused anger to come upon Herod and he gave orders for all male Hebrew children under the age of two to be killed hoping to stop the Lord by a process of elimination. But as we know by now this couldn’t keep Jesus down. And then there was Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who when Jesus was brought before asked Him a series of questions and he would have actually released Him if he were not such intense pressure from the mob who wanted Jesus eliminated, Pilate thought if he could ceremoniously wash the blood off his hands he could bypass the guilt of the Cross, but the late Rev. C. L. Franklin was right when he said, “You can’t wash the blood off your hands”. Herod and Pilate seem to represent the oppression Jesus received from the beginning to the end of His earthly life. Satan did not only use Herod and Pilate in his evil plan to bring down the Son of God, he also solicited members of the religious community.
4. The religious leaders of His day
Caiaphas the high priest was there, they said he was the organizer of the plot to kill Jesus and he staged a show by ripping off his cloak…he had some followers who all wanted nothing more than to bring Jesus down. We make a terrible mistake when we blindly follow someone just because he holds a religious title in front of his name but is not a true servant of Jesus Christ. When we call him a pastor who is suppose to serve God and the Church, but he really is only serving himself. Among these religious leaders who opposed Jesus and assisted satan in trying to bring Jesus down were the Pharisee, the Sadducees, and the Scribes. The Pharisee remind me of the arrogant preacher who demands total loyalty from his Church members or else. You know the ones; they make their grand entrance into the pulpit as if they are the object of worship and not the Lord and would take it very personal should someone else appear to influence the members of his congregation. In the text, they (the Pharisee) were afraid that this carpenter’s son was damaging their influence with the people. The Pharisees emerged as a significant force in Jewish affairs because of their influence with the common people and this influence was the glue that kept them in power. Under no circumstances were they going to allow Jesus and His disciples to ruin their game. The Sadducee often broke with the “tradition of the elders” and weren’t fond of the Pharisees but joined with them in the satanic opposition against Jesus. Let’s not forget the Scribes, they were like Church secretaries and their job description was to copy out the Mosaic laws that was used in their quest to bring Jesus to the Cross. Neither of these three groups really had anything in common but satan managed to bring them together in order to bring Jesus down permanently thus giving him free reign to terrorize God’s children forever at least in his mind.
5. The Crowd
Perhaps the most damaging group of people satan used in his plan to bring down Jesus was the crowd. The crowd consists of like-minded people all bent on destroying the very One who came to set them free. This crowd had some very curious people in it, and these kind of people are still here today in the year 2013. Among them were people who were indifferent, if you’ve attended Church on a regular basis you have most likely heard your pastor use the word “indifferent” a time or two. They used this word I am guessing because they have noticed that there are a few members who are just unconcerned about their salvation and are attending Church for some reason other than to serve God. The Rev. Dennis Carl Jones said, “They don’t have a Church problem…they have a Christ problem.” There were indifferent people in the crowd, and the devil loves to use these types of people.
Also in the crowd were backslidden Church members whose names are on the Church roles but the only time you see them is during funerals or ‘CME”—Christmas, Mother’s day, and Easter. They were among the crowd that day, and the curious were there too, those same kinds of people are still here today. The curious only wants to know what’s going on in the Church; they want to know what’s physically going on rather than spiritually. There is a great number of indifferent, backslidden, and curious church members whose names are on Church rolls. Sadly, there were some very uncaring people in the crowd that day, there were those who gathered around the Cross who had no feeling in regards to Jesus whatsoever—here in 2013, there are those who still have no feeling for Jesus whatsoever. Many of those standing around the Cross may not have shouted, “Crucify Him” but they still didn’t cry out from them not to. There were people who just outright hated Jesus, they were totally against Him—and again, they’re among us today because Jesus said in Luke 11:23, “He that is not with me is against me: and he that gathereth not with me scattereth” and if we look at what’s happening America today? People are actually pointing their fingers in the very face of God and telling Him that they will not accept what His Word has already established; they’re gonna do whatever they want to do despite what is written in the Word of God. There’s a song that my childhood Church used to sing (very few churches sing it anymore) that asked the question, “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord—we’re you there when they nailed Him to the Cross?” And the answer is yes, we were all there among the crowd, regardless of who you are—believer, doubter, or hater, we were all there!
We may not have been there physically but it was our sin that nailed Him to the Cross. It was because of our sin that he endured so much suffering. Not only did the crowd reject Him that day, but the heavenly Father also abandoned him for the time He was on the cross. It was bad enough being rejected by his fellow Jews, the people whom God had taken special care of over the centuries, but to be rejected by the Father was too much to bear. We can’t begin to imagine how Jesus must have felt when he called out, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?" Rejected by both God and man, alone, he dies for us. Alone he takes our place and dies for you and me. Alone He endures the punishment that should have been ours. With the weight of the sin of all humanity bearing down on him, he calls out, "It is finished". All the while, we were there in the crowd. We were all there, Judas was there, Herod was there, Pontius Pilate was there, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Scribes were there. Peter was there after he denied Him, Mary and John was there too. Everyone who has ever lived was there which includes you and I. But someone else was there, he was under-cover, he was incognito.
6. Victory over satan at the crucifixion
Satan was there being from the spirit world no one could see him physically, but he was there for sure and Satan thought he was winning the victory that day when he instigated the mob to take Christ and crucify Him, but he was simply playing right into the hands of God. Satan thought that if he were ever to bring Christ down and keep Him down, the Cross would be the very thing that would ensure it. Don’t be fooled, satan was smart enough to know God’s law, he knew about God’s condemnation on mankind. He knew that it demanded death - not only physical death, but also a second death of the soul and spirit in hell. Satan was the originator of sin and the father of lies. He must’ve met with a few of his top demons and said, “If I can put Christ to death, I will show Him to be a sinner because “the wages of sin is death”. And he must’ve concluded that “since the wages of sin is death His followers will have nothing left to believe but that Christ Himself must have a sinner. And how then could He be the very Son of God?”
You see satan was smart, but he wasn’t that smart. There was a hidden wisdom in the cross work of Christ that God didn’t tell anybody. God kept it secret. Satan possessed wisdom (in a warped sense of the word), but he didn’t have all wisdom because what satan didn’t know was Jesus Christ was there on the cross as a payment for all of mankind’s sin. Satan focused on his plan, and over-looked the possibility of God’s plan. Yes, satan was there, and he brought with him death and the grave thinking that this was all he needed.
Satan thought he won, he thought death and the grave had done its job because on the third day He got up from the grave.
What the devil did not know that day was that the Lord Jesus wasn’t planning to stay dead! Maybe the devil should have listened closer and he would have understood that Jesus did not say, "I am finished!" He said, "It is finished!" Because when Jesus died on the cross, He did not die to stay dead, but He rose from the dead three days later and destroyed the devil’s game plan. Satan is defeated! He may roar like a lion and he may try to keep you from God, 1 Pet. 5:8, but he has been defeated by the power of God and you do not have to remain his prisoner because it’s already understood among the devil and all his demons that you can’t keep a good man (woman, boy, or girl) down because of Christ work on Calvary’s Cross. Amen.