This is the fourth day of our thirteen days spent reading The Cross He Bore by Frederick Leahy. Today’s text is from Luke 22:53: “This is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
In this chapter Leahy looks to the sovereignty of God and his foreknowledge of all that would come. “This hour was predestined, and because predestined it was prophesied: prophecy depends on predestination.” And so all that happened to Christ this night was done so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled.
For many months now, our church has been studying the gospel of John. One theme that repeats itself in that gospel is Jesus’ statement that his hour had not yet come. Leahy says, “John makes it clear from the very beginning that there was an appointed hour for the Saviour and before that time he could not be harmed.” What jumped out at me in today’s reading is this: Christ’s hour was also Satan’s hour.
Initially the plans of his enemies would succeed, not just because they came to him under cover of darkness, but essentially because in this hour Satan and his forces were permitted by God to subject Christ to further suffering and humiliation. God reserved this hour for Satan. In all of time this hour was especially his. The darkness of which Christ spoke was the darkness of evil and of the prince of darkness. In this dread hour Satan had free rein. In the case of Job God set a limit to Satan’s activity. In the experience of Christ there were no limits to Satan’s onslaught. He was free to do his worst, and he did.
Gethsemane and Calvary marked high noon in the world’s long day, and God’s permission was absolute as Satan mustered his legions for the decisive encounter. The first Adam had been easy prey. How would he fare with this Adam? As Satan entered the battlefield he did so fully conscious of the Word of God: “He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Did he recall his cynical contempt for God’s Word earlier when he asked, “Did God actually say…?” (Gen. 3:1). Or did he fear the sentence passed in Eden? Doubtless he did. But the hour was fixed. It was decreed by God. When tempting Christ in the wilderness, Satan had done his utmost to deflect him from this hour, to take some other road than the way of the cross, but all in vain. Now the battle had commenced in earnest. Nothing could stop it. This is your hour, Satan!