The final struggle between good and evil was displayed at the place of Golgotha. At the beginning of the synoptic Gospels- Matthew, Luke and Mark- all recorded Jesus' temptations. After forty days of fasting in the wilderness, Satan tempted Jesus. Satan's temptations failed badly. 'Having exhausted all these ways of tempting him, the devil left him, to return at the appointed time' Lk 4,13.
Satan used the term 'the appointed time'. Jesus refused to use that term. Jesus talked about His own time as 'The hour' - the hour for Him to glorify God. At the time of being arrested, Jesus told His apostles that He was to be betrayed by sinners. Mk. 14,41.
After 'losing' the temptations, Satan left Jesus, and swore to return at 'the appointed time'. Being defeated, Satan turned his attack to God's creation. He hoped to gain something from God's creature, Satan knew Jesus loved human beings, because they were created after God's image. God was the first, the paramount, and human beings were the second most loved in Jesus' heart. Satan believed if he could get human beings to collaborate with him; he would make Jesus suffer because He loved them. Satan was right; human beings were co-operating with him. There was nothing new in Satan's tactics to win the human race. Satan repeated the same methods to tempt the human race as he once used to tempt Jesus. Jesus fought the temptations by quoting the Scriptures. The human race relied on reasons to deal with temptations. Reasons caused disunity among people, because of various understandings and differences over world- glory, power and prestige.
By using human hands to crucify Jesus, Satan could boast that it was not him, who crucified Jesus, but it was the work of human beings. Satan was the culprit in disguise. Jesus uncovered Satan's plot by reminding His apostles, that the real culprits were sinners. 'Now the Son of man is to be betrayed into the hands of sinners' Mk 14,41. Sinners were Satan's collaborators.
Satan's last shot was an attempt to put saints and criminals on the same footing. Jesus, a sinless person, was nailed on the cross between two criminals. On the surface, saints suffered as much as sinners, but from their hearts, there was a world of difference. Saints suffered in hope; while sinners were bitter. On the cross one thief denied that his actions were evil, and was hostile towards Jesus. The other accepted his wrong doing. He turned to Jesus, and asked Him for forgiveness. Jesus granted him eternal life. Satan had failed to score what he hoped for. Jesus' Passion showed God's victory. At the beginning of the crucifixion, there were fewer saints and more criminals. The tally was reversed at the time of Jesus' death, there were more saints and fewer criminals. Soon after Jesus' death, Satan suffered another blow when the centurion praised God, saying: 'In truth, this man was the Son of God' Mk 15,39. This public confession demonstrated that Satan had lost beyond calculation. Jesus' resurrection robbed Satan of all his credibility.
Jesus gives salvation and eternal life for penitents; the penitent thief was the very first one to receive eternal life.