And Jesus answered and said to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'”Luke 4:8 NKJV
In the previous post, we looked at the second recorded temptation (Luke 4:5-7) and what it would have meant if Jesus had given in to it. In this post, we’re going to look at how Jesus overcame this temptation.
Jesus’ response begins with, “Get behind Me, Satan!” (Luke 4:8, also at top of page). (I must also point out that not all Bible versions include this line in recounting Jesus’ response).
That line, Get behind Me, Satan!, is one that is frequently referred to in messages, but not always in reference to these temptations. The more often referenced scenario is the one found in Matthew 16:21-23. This tells of Jesus sharing with His disciples that He must go to the cross to endure much suffering, be killed and raised on the third day.
Peter, being troubled by this, takes Jesus to the side…
…and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!”
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”Matthew 16:22-23 NKJV
It’s interesting that Jesus uses the words Get behind Me, Satan! in both of these scenarios. If this is the same, are there any other similarities?
Two things stand out.
First, the temptation and Peter’s rebuke are attempts to take Jesus away from the cross. The cross was pivotal to Jesus coming to the earth and bringing us salvation. Satan clearly knew this, which is why he made so many attempts to stop Jesus from getting to it, as we see in the temptations.
Jesus’ response to Peter also tells us more about the importance of His going to the cross, as He says “you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Let’s look at what Jesus said that caused Peter to rebuke Him in the first place:
From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.Matthew 16:21 NKJV
Jesus said He will go through three things:
- Suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes,
- Be killed, and
- Be raised the third day
Peter seems to only see the first two things and so rebukes Jesus in the hopes of preventing Him from enduring suffering and death. However, in doing so, Peter is also attempting to prevent Jesus from being raised from the dead, which is what would bring us salvation.
Satan’s temptation to give Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would only worship him attempts to do exactly the same thing – take Jesus away from the cross and stop salvation. Jesus’ suffering was necessary for our salvation. He had to endure the full weight of our sin so that we wouldn’t have to and so that we can appear before God as He is, pure and blameless. This was God’s plan all along (see Revelation 13:8). Any attempts to stop that from happening were done without being mindful of His plans.
The second thing that stands out from these scenarios is that, and like the other temptation, they attempt to take Jesus’ focus away from God. To be mindful of the things of God is to consider His ways and plans, and to make decisions in line with them.
Even if it means suffering.
Jesus was sent to the earth to save the world, which involved becoming our sin and enduring a horrible death. It also involved complete separation from the Father as He bore the full brunt of our sin.
And at the end of all this unimaginable suffering, Jesus was raised from the dead and granted us salvation.
Yes, the journey was horrible, but the end result was beautiful. That is why the Bible says that Jesus
…who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.Hebrews 12:2 NKJV
Jesus’ journey to the cross would have been an incredibly hard one. He endured temptations to take Him away from it, and plights to stop Him having to go through with it. It would have been challenging for those around Him to see Him continually make decisions to continue towards the cross, knowing full well what it would cost Him.
Yet in all this, His focus was on God. Jesus was mindful of God’s plan in all of this, knowing the good end result, and so willingly endured the unimaginable suffering.
What does all of this mean for us?
I believe it serves as another reminder to keep close to God and in doing so to be mindful of the ways of God. There are things in our journey that are hard, but these are not necessarily things for us to avoid. Perhaps even avoiding them will cause more harm than good. We need to stick close to God, be mindful of His ways, so that when things come across our path – even with apparent good intentions – we will know whether we need to embrace those things or rebuke them.
This is not easy, but in all of this let’s not lose focus of the great things God has ahead of us if we endure the uncomfortable process.