In Matthew 16:21 Jesus tells his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem to be put to death and raised on the 3rd day. I’ve always understood that Satan must have been ignorant of the fact that Jesus needed to be crucified for our salvation. Otherwise, he would have tried with all of his might to thwart this from happening. If he heard this straight from the mouth of Jesus that this should happen, then why wasn’t he trying to stop it? We all know that God’s plans would always trump man’s and Satan’s plans, but seems curious to me that he seemed to help the Jewish leaders anger against Jesus.
Satan knew that Jesus was scheduled for death. Hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that are understandable even to natural minds make this clear. By helping to make Israel reject Jesus as their Messiah Satan thought he was engineering a great victory because it would mean they wouldn’t allow the Lord’s death to purchase their salvation. Jesus would have died in vain and God’s plan to save His people would have failed.
What Satan didn’t know until it was too late is that the Lord’s death was going to apply to all of mankind across the entire span of time, whether Jew or Gentile. He didn’t discover this until he saw all the sins for all of mankind nailed to the cross. Previously all sacrifices for sin had applied only to the past. But the Lord’s sacrifice would apply to future sins as well (Hebrews 10:12-14). Henceforth all anyone would have to do is claim the Lord’s death as payment for his or her sins to be with Him for eternity. Untold millions of souls Satan thought were his would choose to become the Lord’s instead.
This is what Paul was referring to in Colossians 2:13-15 when he said,
“When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.”
In 1 Cor. 2:6-8 Paul called this part of God’s secret wisdom and said if the rulers of this age had understood this, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.