When we think of the days between the Passion and Easter, most of the time we’re thinking about Jesus’ disciples who had very suddenly lost their teacher, best friend, and the man they believed had been sent by God to redeem their people. How discouraged they must have felt, how frightened, how confused. But I’d never stopped to wonder how Satan experienced that time. Have you?
After Jesus died on the cross, everything went dark. Clouds covered the sun, the earth shook violently, buildings crumbled, the temple veil was torn, and even ghosts appeared in town. It must have been a day filled with dread and hopelessness, even for anyone who wasn’t aware of the crucifixion.
But how gleeful Satan must have felt! God’s Son was stopped dead in His tracks. No more talk of salvation. No more Light of the world. When Jesus’ body was laid to rest in the tomb, a heavy stone was rolled outside the entrance, and guards were posted, how the devil must have snickered. Of course, that supposed triumph was very short-lived.
The Bible tells us that “when [Jesus’] body was put to death … his spirit was made alive. Christ then preached to the spirits that were being kept in prison.”1 Jesus descended into the world of the dead to bring salvation to the souls held captive there. That was Satan’s own back yard—how could he not have heard the message Jesus was sharing?—That His death on the cross had all been part of God’s plan—that it had in fact been the very way He and His Father had picked to bring about their triumph—that because He had died and overcome death, He was now able to offer salvation and eternal life to all who believed in Him.
“In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus warned His disciples before His death, “but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”2 That’s the victory—His and ours—that we celebrate at Easter.