Sovereign over Satan
“Now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”- John 14:29–31
Looking to the future, Jesus predicted His betrayal and death, and He comforted His disciples, assuring them that His death would not be the end of the story and that He would not be leaving them alone (John 13:1–14:28). But our Lord did not tell the disciples these things solely to calm their fears. He also explained what lay ahead for the sake of their faith. Christ told them about Judas’ betrayal so that they would believe that Jesus was who He claimed to be, that He remained in full control of everything that transpired as the Lord of heaven and earth (13:19). And in today’s passage, we read of how He again explained that His predictions concerning the future were for the sake of the disciples’ faith (14:29).Jesus spoke these words because He knew that as He was arrested and crucified, the disciples might begin to think that someone else, namely, the devil, was sovereign over what was transpiring. We see evidence of this in John 14:30. Jesus said He would not be talking much longer with them because “the ruler of the world” was coming. He was referring to Satan, the evil one under whose power the world was bound (1 John 5:19). Satan had tempted Judas to betray Jesus (John 13:27), and soon more men, under the devil’s thrall, would arrive to take Jesus captive (18:1–11). The time for His teaching was growing short, so our Savior said there was not much time left to speak to His disciples.Christ’s words that the time of His arrest was at hand are evidence that He was in control, not the devil. But lest there be any doubt, Jesus then said that the “ruler of the world” had no claim over Him (v. 30). Satan had no claim over Jesus because the authority he has in creation is not an inherent authority and is not over all of creation but only over the sinful order. As Augustine of Hippo reminds us in a sermon on today’s passage, “The whole world therefore, from the highest heavens to the lowest earth, is subject to the Creator, not to the deserter; to the Redeemer, not to the destroyer; to the Deliverer, not to the enslaver; to the Teacher, not to the deceiver.” Jesus was never a part of this sinful order in the way that sinners are because He never sinned. Satan never had any claim or authority over Him. The disciples needed to know that, for it would seem otherwise as they watched Jesus be arrested and taken to the cross.
Satan has a measure of influence over this sinful world. He has this influence only by God’s permission, for authority in this world is not rightfully his. He did not possess it before the fall. Knowing that God is sovereign over creation should encourage us to pray and to work for the sake of the gospel. Because He is sovereign over the devil, He will bless our efforts for the sake of His name and accomplish His purposes through us.
Passages for Further Study