DID SATAN KNOW JESUS WAS GOD?
We read in the synoptic gospels that Satan came to tempt Lord Jesus in the desert. The question arises: Could have Jesus really fall into sin? ; and furthermore, why would Satan try to induce Jesus to fall into sin if he knew God cannot possibly sin? (Mt 4:1-11; Mk 1:12-13; Lk 4:1-13).
When Satan tempted Lord Jesus, he repeatedly asked, “If you are the Son of God” (Mt 4:3, 6), before making his evil offerings, which in turn contrasts with the explicit declaration of different demons that Jesus was indeed “The Son of the Most High God” (Mt 8:29; Mk 1:24; 5:7; Lk 4:34; 8:28).
When the Logos incarnated to carry on the divine Plan of Salvation, the divinity of the Messiah was hidden from unbelievers and demons, for two reasons:
The prime object of the redemptive plan was centred in the humanity of the Redeemer, not in his divinity. The Logos of YHWH became the person of Jesus of Nazareth at the incarnation, in representation of the whole human race in order to carry on the vicarious atonement. To know that He was divine was of no consequence to the world at this moment.
Secondly, to reveal his divinity to unbelievers and demons would have obstructed his Ministry. Evil men would have worshipped Him like a pagan god and demons would not have approached Jesus at all, making the atoning death on the Cross impossible to attain.
In order to keep this secret, the Verb incarnated by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of St Mary, event which was later revealed only to close relatives (Mt 1:18-20; Lk 1:41-43) and kept covered through the presence of St Joseph as a legal husband to Mary, thus giving the impression that Jesus was the son of both parents, like any other human.
At Jesus’s baptism, God’s declaration that He was “his beloved Son” was given in the presence of a few (Mt 3:17; Mk 1:11; Lk 3:22), and from that day his Messianic claim became public.
When Satan tempted Jesus in the desert, he was not fully aware that Jesus was indeed the Messiah promised to Israel, or as the Old Testament calls the Anointed One, the “Son of God” (2 Sam 7:12-14; Psalm 2; Jn 1:49).
When the demoniacs in different occasions called Lord Jesus “The Son of God”, they did it after the temptation in the desert took place, by this time Satan and his angels knew that Jesus was the Messiah, but a human being after all. At no moment they suspected Jesus was the Logos from the God the Father and therefore God Himself, eternal and almighty, unable to sin or die or be defeated.
Due to this ignorance, Satan tempted Jesus, hoping to make the human Messiah fall into enmity with God through sinfulness; and seeing that He would not surrender to his temptations, Satan instigated the crucifixion of Lord Jesus, hoping to destroy Him before He brought about the Kingdom of God on Earth.