Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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“The demons also believe, and they tremble”
No amount of money could have persuaded Satan to personally drive a nail into Jesus’ hands. He and his fallen angels are terrified of Jesus’ and his power. Only humans are so ignorant of who Jesus was that they dared to hurt him. Satan’s part was to use lies to motivate us ignorant humans to harm the Son of God.
All slanderers are themselves cowards, hoping to motivate others to perform the cruelty which they themselves are too cowardly to perform. When Jesus drew near to demon-possessed people, the demons would often cry out in terror (e.g., Mt. 8:28–29). But when Jesus drew near to humans who had received the slander they heard about him, they spit in his face and mocked him.
But there is a silver lining even to that dark cloud, for after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, the same humans who brutalized and killed Jesus were the ones to whom God extended the offer of mercy. The Father had mercy on them because they did what they did in ignorance. Paul once spoke of the mercy he received from God after he had persecuted and helped kill some of God’s dear children. “I received mercy,” Paul said, “because I acted ignorantly in unbelief” (1Tim. 1:13). No such pardon will ever be offered Satan and other unclean spirits who motivate the ignorant actions of men. If tried in a human court, they could hire a defense attorney to say, “They were not even there at Calvary! They couldn’t have done it!” But God’s justice is perfect, and there is no escaping the consequences of any act for which we are responsible.
King David was in Jerusalem, over a hundred miles away from Rabbah, when Uriah the Hittite was killed by the Ammonites, but David was the one who had intentionally set up the situation for Uriah to be killed. When Nathan the prophet confronted David, he got to the point quickly with this message for God: “YOU killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword!” (2Sam. 12:9). The Ammonites who killed Uriah might have been forgiven by God if they had repented for slaying Uriah. As for David, though he received some unexpected mercy, he suffered greatly the rest of his life for his evil scheme (2Sam. 12:10). God took the life of four of David’s beloved sons in payment for the innocent life David had taken.
Remember, the next time you hear a slanderer speak against someone, that the person who is talking is a coward, and then ask yourself, “What is he trying to get me to do for him?”