Severe with His Soul

In two instances, the Lord Jesus Christ is particularly severe with Satan. This severity is not motivated by the power of Satan, but by his craftiness. In neither situation does Satan seek to confront the Lord to compare forces but to try and seduce his soul. And in response, on both occasions, the Lord uses strong verbal expressions to resist the devil and get him away from him.

The first instance occurs in the temptation in the desert. This is the third temptation, when Satan says, showing him the kingdoms of the world: "All this I will give you, if you bow down and worship me." The Lord then says, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only’" (Matt. 4: 10-11). The Greek word ‘upage’ translated here as "go" is a preposition that adds the idea of humiliation in the act of departing.

The second instance occurs in the dialogue with Peter at Caesarea Philippi after Peter tried to dissuade the Lord to go to the cross. Then the Lord said, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matt. 16:23). In Greek, this exclamatory expression is upage opisô mou satana, in other words, "Get behind me, Satan!" The order is final. Satan cannot go before the Lord to command his life even if Peter’s dissuasion seemed to be a way of defending the Lord.

Both situations have a common denominator: In both, Satan offers something pleasing to the Lord, trying to gratify his soul. Was not it a good thing to offer the kingdoms of the world to the Lord? Was it not a good thing to spare the Lord the sufferings of the cross?

However, the Lord showed in all these situations great severity toward himself. Although he was suffering with great need in the desert and then he was suffering the early closeness of Gethsemane, the Lord did not seek to please himself. He was consistent with his own teaching: "For whoever wants to save his life (soul) will lose it, but whoever loses his life (soul) for me will find it" (Matt. 16:25). A magnificent example for those who follow him!

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