Jesus and Satan were not strangers when they met before Jesus began His earthly ministry. They had known each other since before the world began. Each understood the other’s intentions and that it would be defeat for them if the other one could gain his goal.
Satan offered Jesus sovereignty over all the nations and peoples of the world, as a subordinate to himself. Jesus could enforce righteousness over all the world, but in the end all people would be doomed to hell.
He had already convinced the Jewish leadership of that day that this was a good plan. Messiah would come and rule the world with a rod of iron and the Jewish people could Lord it over all the people of the world.
He offered the same idea, just packaged a little differently to Karl Marx. There would be a time of struggle followed by an ideal society of equality and peace. He offered it to the Ayatollah’s of Iran, a strict enforcement of righteousness would bring peace. He offers an earthly utopia in many different ways, all have brought disappointment, and left people worse off than they were before.
The devil is even offering this dream of an earthly utopia to Christians today. He tells them that Christ will return and establish a 1,000 year reign of peace over all the world. But even those who describe this earthly reign of peace in alluring terms say it will end badly. At the end of the 1,000 years there will be a great rebellion ending in an unprecedented bloodbath.
This dream offered by Satan in many different forms is a means of distracting people’s attention from their greatest need. They are sinners, doomed to eternal damnation.
Jesus refused Satan’s offer. Satan’s only alternative then was to destroy Jesus, so that he could have uncontested sovereignty. That was going to be easy, because Satan already had control of the Jewish authorities.
Thus it happened that Jesus was condemned to death, scourged and nailed to a wooden cross. There He hung, broken, defeated; Satan’s total victory just minutes away.
Then Jesus spoke from the cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” and Satan’s expected became a crushing defeat. Satan had never anticipated that God would forgive the world of sinners who had rejected and mistreated His Son. How could He? Forgiveness is completely foreign to him.
Satan is defeated, doomed. He knows it; his hatred of God and his anger at God now moves him to capture as many people as possible and take them to hell with him.
God forgives us when we surrender completely to Him with all our being. He sets us free. But we won’t be free for long if we do not forgive others. If our feelings are hurt, if we are bitter over being mistreated or neglected, if we are angry, Satan already has us in his claws. The only way to get free is to forgive.
Even if we say, I forgive, but surely God will deal with that other person some day, Satan still has us in his claws. We must forgive completely to be completely free. God will judge all sin. He doesn’t need us to tell him who, or when or how. That is His domain, not ours.
We cannot outsmart Satan, we cannot overpower him. There is only one weapon that is effective against him. For that reason he does his utmost to prevent us from using it. Forgiveness is the weapon that is more powerful than anything in Satan’s arsenal.