Matthew 26:4-5 “They plotted to kill Jesus in some sly way and kill him. ‘But not during the Feast,’ they said, ‘or there may be a riot among the people.'”
Caiaphas the high priest spoke these words. He and his co-conspirators were not acting as responsible leaders simply concerned about the welfare of the people. The loss of innocent human life did not weigh on their consciences. They were plotting death, not trying to prevent it. Nor did their plans come from a deep concern that valuable property might be damaged. A riot would mean a crack down by their Roman masters. A crack down by their Roman masters could mean loss of privileges, power and position. They carefully planned Jesus’ death because they were looking out for themselves.
Looking out for self is still humanity’s natural religion. Today you can find groups who teach you to find the “god within you,” but we don’t need them to practice this religion. We practice it with every sin we commit. We try to elevate ourselves to the status of God and push God off his throne. So much of life is lived with only this in mind––what will make life more enjoyable, more rich, and more happy for me. And so Jesus’ death was carefully planned for us. The same deceit, that same desire to get rid of God, the same selfishness that hides behind our sins, led these men to plot Jesus’ death.
“Not during the Feast,” was Caiaphas’s idea. Jesus’ own plans overruled him. “As you know, the Passover is two days away––and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” Whose plan prevailed? Jesus’ suffering and death happened during the Passover Feast, just as Jesus’ had claimed.
Jesus’ plan is an example of God’s poetic planning of history. At the first Passover a lamb had been sacrificed, and the life and blood of that lamb saved God’s people from death. It delivered them from slavery, and in faith God’s people received all those blessings as they ate the sacrificial lamb in a memorial meal. Through the years the repetition of this meal continued to preach to the people that our God is a God of rescue, a God of salvation, who delivers his people from slavery and death.
So it is with Jesus’ death. It’s all there in God’s careful planning. Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. The blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. Jesus’ sacrifice delivers us from death, and frees us from our slavery to sin. And even though that sacrifice was made once for all time at the cross, the flesh and blood of our sacrificial Lamb are still eaten in a meal at which the blessings of his sacrifice are given to us. When we celebrate Jesus’ supper, he comes to us to tell us we are forgiven, free from the slavery of sin now, and free from death forever.
All that Jesus’ enemies plotted thus becomes the instrument for our Savior’s own heavenly love. We couldn’t have planned it any better.