“When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.’ Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, ‘Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.’” (Matthew 26:1-5)
On Sunday our Pastor, Dr. Allan Taha preached a convincing sermon highlighting some of the paradoxes of Christ’s crucifixion.* It was beneficial to me, so I will enumerate some of the ironies of the cross, to grasp the profound wisdom of God’s intricate, hidden ways of working in the world, not only then, but throughout history, up to today. The ironies in the providence of God highlight the upside-down nature of life in Christ as compared to life in the world. As followers of Jesus, Christians commit to living a life of faith in the invisible Holy One of Israel, the promised Messiah, because our real eternal home and citizenship is in his kingdom, not the world.
The Jewish leaders plotted Jesus’ arrest in secret; Jesus not only expected it but called him out in the darkness. The leaders did everything to avoid a scene at Passover, assuming that the people would side with Christ, to save him. Instead, God ordained that their plans would be foiled to occur precisely at the Passover, and the people sided with them, not the Messiah. Caiaphas, the high priest, had prophesied that Jesus would die for the children of God and recommended his death as if it would be meaningless (John 11:49-53; 18:14). Pilate washed his hands of the judgment for crucifixion as if he was innocent and the Jews took responsibility for his execution as if they were just in their sentence. But all were condemned as a result of their part in Christ’s sentencing (Matthew 27:24-26). Barabbas, a guilty man, was freed and Jesus, the innocent man, died in his place (Matthew 27:20-23).
The Passover celebration, pointing to the future redemption of God’s people was interrupted by the crucifixion of The Passover Lamb who alone atoned for sin and provided that redemption upon his crucifixion (Matthew 26:1-5). He is indeed the King, although the Romans thought to mocked him as “King of the Jews” (Matthew 27:29, 37). Mockers accused Jesus of not being able to save himself, yet he is the only person who was never in need of salvation (Matthew 27:42). The Jews sought to protect their precious temple and religion from corruption by killing Christ, but the temple curtain was torn, allowing access to the Most Holy Place when Jesus died (Matthew 27:51). The Roman governing authorities tried to hide the fact that his body was missing from the tomb, but the apostles were even more incredulous at its mysterious disappearance, and therefore all the more convinced that Christ was raised to life.
Our sovereign God works all things according to his will in what seem to be the most contradictory ways to us. Why should we think that we can so easily discern his secret will or dismiss his intentions by our own choices? Do the ironies of the cross speak to you of Christ’s wisdom in a particular way this Easter? Will you take hold of God’s power intentionally for a more transformed life in Christ?
* Dr. Allan Taha, Pastor, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Boerne, Texas, “The Gospel of Reversals,” March 25, 2018, http://trinityboerne.org/sermons/sermon/2018-03-25/the-gospel-of-reversals.