Jesus has finished telling His disciples about the end of days and His second coming. Now He tells them for the last time about His upcoming death. This time He gives them the date and method of His death. He has told His disciples four times now about what was going to happen to Him. Each time He added a little more facts to His account.
Jesus is sitting on the Mount of Olives sharing the facts of His death with His disciples, while at the same time the final plot is being hatched at Caiaphas’ palace. There is a difference in the two plans though. Jesus says that His death is going to occur on the Passover, two days from then. While the chief priests and elders gathered in secret wanted to wait until after the feast.
God had a timeline He insisted be followed. He and Jesus knew the entirety of the events and when each event needed to take place. Jesus was to be the sacrificial lamb, the Passover sacrifice. Jesus’ sacrifice was full of symbolism. God not only required a perfect blood sacrifice to atone for our sins, but required that sacrifice to meet the conditions He set out too. God would personally see to it that His conditions were met.
God and Jesus didn’t arbitrarily pick this date for Jesus’ redemptive work. They had planned it from the beginning. God first had to make it significant to Israel. He began this process in Egypt. I always wondered why the bible says, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” This was part of the preparations for Jesus’ sacrifice. If Pharaoh had let Israel go during any one of the earlier plagues, the plague of the first born would not have happened. If God had sent the plague of the first born earlier in the sequence, then the people would not have been SO uncomfortable that they would be ready to leave, and Pharaoh would not have been as motivated to rid himself of this troublesome people. God was proving Himself to Pharaoh and Israel with His protracted rescue.
Because of all that went into creating the Passover memory with Israel, they were sure to observe it for the rest of their history. God cemented the relationship between salvation for Israel and the sacrifice on that night. Now God would call upon that same relationship for His Son’s redemptive work. The religious leaders should have recognized the significance of what was taking place, but I believe their hearts were hardened too. Like Pharaoh, they had a part to play in God’s plan.
Back at the palace of Caiaphas men were making their plans. They had been trying to kill Jesus for some time now, but circumstances never seemed to go their way in the end. They were going to do everything in their power to make sure that would not be the case this time. They were going to arrest Jesus in secret. Every time they tried to grab Him while He was in public, either the people “intimidated” them or He slipped away. Not this time! But when and how were they going to get Him alone? He was always in the middle of a crowd. They had to get someone on the inside to help them out, but who? They knew it needed to happen very soon because His popularity was becoming a problem again. They didn’t want to move on Him during the festival though, because then the people would really be a problem. So what should they do? For now they needed to bide their time. Something would present itself soon and they had to be ready to act when the time came.
Father God, it is amazing to watch how You orchestrated everything from the beginning. You brought Abraham out to survey the land of his decedents. You brought Joseph into Egypt in time to establish a reputation as an interpreter of dreams. You sent the famine at just the right moment to force Israel to reach out to a miraculously prepared Egypt. You grew the people of Israel, even under the oppressive hand of Egypt. You orchestrated Israel’s release from Egypt with persistence, patience and precision timing. You engrained in the nation of Israel the practice of honoring Your works throughout their history. You brought Jesus into Israel’s history exactly in time to meet all the conditions necessary for Israel to reject Him. You planned Jesus’ sacrificial moment with perfect timing and symbolism. You thought of everything, even having a secret disciple available to take Jesus’ body and prepare it for burial.
The God who knows beginning, middle and end can surely be trusted with my issues in life. I can also see how Your hand has been working over time in my life, just like You have done throughout history. Many things I have gone through in earlier years have brought me to the place where I am today. I do not believe this is some accident or fate, but Your hand guiding my development. I trust You to keep arranging my life according to Your plans. Please help me trust You in the midst of the discomfort that causes change. I know I would remain exactly as I am without it. Thank You for encouraging me to embrace the changes You bring. Lead my choices in the direction I should go when change is required. Because of Your perspective I know I can trust You to open to me the right doors that will lead to the places YOU want me to walk. Thank You for Your ever present hand on my life.