Did Jesus’ Resurrection Take Satan by Surprise?

Question from a Reader:

Being that Satan is not omniscient, at what point did he understand how God was writing the story of victory over sin? Do you think the resurrection surprised him? Do you think he knew Jesus had to die? Did he view the key piece to be Jesus’ death, or to be the resurrection?

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

Great question. On the one hand, given not only the Old Testament prophecies but also the direct statements of Jesus to the disciples regarding His coming resurrection, you would think the devil would have not been surprised. Yet the very pride that caused his fall in the first place might have made him think that Christ’s death would still be the devil’s greatest achievement. I think either his pride fooled him and caused him to underestimate God’s plan or the feasibility or power of Christ’s resurrection. And/or he was so bloodthirsty to murder God’s Son that the chance to do it blinded him to the redemptive consequences that would bring about the salvation of the image-bearers he despises.

He just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do the worst evil, and couldn’t conceive how God could use that evil to accomplish the greatest good (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). Either that or knowing he was already doomed to hell, he wanted to put Jesus through as much hell as he possibly could. Matthew 8:29 shows demons knew their doom was sure even prior to Christ’s resurrection: "What do you want with us, Son of God?" they shouted. "Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?" And now we’re told Satan knows/will know his time is short (Revelation 12:12)

Thinking about Satan’s nature to do evil, even when it can ultimately hurt him, reminds me of the old story of the frog and the scorpion. I’m pasting this from online:

A scorpion asks a frog to carry it across a river. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, they would both drown. ...the scorpion stings him, and both die. The moral of the story—the frog should have been aware of the scorpion's nature, and so we should always be aware of the true nature of others.

That’s good. Just as Satan’s nature is to do evil, even if it ultimately hurts him, so the scorpion’s nature is to kill, even if it kills him.

In The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson paints a picture of Satan knowing that if Jesus dies, Satan loses...so Satan attempts to keep him from going through with it. That’s an opposite perspective but could also be true.

I love this from Narnia in context of Aslan’s choice to die for Edmund—when Aslan/Jesus sternly tells the witch/Satan: “Do not cite the deep magic to me, witch. I was there when it was written.”

Photo by James Coleman on Unsplash

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over sixty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries