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 ESV)
Chapter 26 of Matthew’s gospel begins the final two days of Jesus’ life. He is done teaching. He is done healing the masses. From now on we’ll read only about the events leading up to His arrest and crucifixion, His death, and His resurrection.
Jesus has just finished teaching His disciples about His future return to earth. Certainly they still did not fully understand and were likely very excited about Jesus’ role as king and their perceived positions of authority in His kingdom. So Jesus brings them back to reality with His fourth (and final) prediction that after two days He (the Son of Man) will be delivered up to be crucified.
Meanwhile, the chief priests and elders were meeting in the palace of the high priest, Caiaphas, where they were plotting together in order to arrest Jesus and kill Him. Notice that their plan was to arrest Jesus by stealth. They didn’t want Jesus’ arrest to be a public scene for fear of creating an uproar among the people because at this point the people still believed that Jesus was going to lead a rebellion and overthrow the repressive Roman government and liberate Israel. But their opinion will turn 180° very soon.
This isn’t the first time people wanted to kill Jesus. The first was when evil King Herod killed all the baby boys in Israel shortly after Jesus was born. But Jesus and His family escaped to Egypt [Matthew 2:13-15]. Later, after speaking in the synagogue of His hometown the people tried to throw Him off a cliff because they didn’t like what He was teaching. But He miraculously passed through their midst to safety [Luke 4:16-30].
After Jesus healed a man at the pool of Bethesda the Jewish leaders sought to kill Him [John 5:18]. They also tried to arrest Him after He healed a man on the Sabbath but were unable to do so [John 7:44-46].
Each of these attempts to arrest or kill Jesus fell through. The people were unable to arrest and kill Jesus when they wanted. But they will end up crucifying Him at the exact time they don’t want to – during the Passover feast.
Traditionally lambs were slain at Passover as a symbol of the future Messiah who God would send to take away the sins of the world [Exodus 12]. Having Jesus die on the Passover was appropriate because He was the Lamb of God whose death paid for all the sins of mankind [John 1:29; Acts 8:32-34; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19-20; Revelation 5:12 et. al].
It was always God’s plan for Jesus to take on the punishment for the sins of mankind by dying. Jesus would die. But it would be at the time and place of God’s choosing, not man’s. God thwarted all the previous attempts to kill Jesus because they were not according to His timetable.
Many people think they’ll prevail over God. They think they can claim He doesn’t exist and therefore He doesn’t. They think they can disrespect His Son, Jesus, and get away with it. Silly people.
It is nothing but human hubris to think one has power over God. God is in control. Always.
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