What if?

It is breathtaking to realize the vast amount of activity and teaching that took place in the few days before Jesus was crucified. The Last Week was my Palm Sunday sermon at Faith Church as I traced daily events from coming to the Jerusalem suburb, Bethany, to entering the city on Palm Sunday and all that followed the next week.

The NIV Study Bible has a two page Passion Week chart that outlines the activity of each day:

1. The pre-anointing for burial in Bethany on Friday
2. The Triumphal Entry on Sunday with Jesus weeping over the city
3. Cleansing the Temple on Monday with a significant amount of teaching including parables and confrontations with the religious leaders, possibly continuing into Tuesday
4. The Olivet Discourse on Tuesday as Jesus explained the future to the disciples
5. Thursday back in Jerusalem in the Upper Room with the washing of feet, eating the Passover meal, predicting Betrayal and Denial, major teaching on the Holy Spirit, prayer for the disciples as Jesus’ prepares them for his departure.  Then, crossing over to Gethsemane, agonizing prayer and submission, the arrival of Judas with the kiss of betrayal, the arrest and late night trials
6. Friday’s trials, torture, condemnation, crucifixion, death and burial

What about Wednesday?  Maybe some of the Monday activity spilled over into Tuesday and some of Tuesday into Wednesday.  But just as Wednesday is called “hump day” as the transition for early to late week, so Wednesday seems to be the major transition day for Jesus. Public ministry has ceased.  He now concentrates on preparing the disciples for what is about to happen. Though they still didn’t get it, Jesus was unwavering in His trajectory toward Jerusalem and through the week toward the cross.

What we must not do is conjecture about certain “What ifs.”  What if Jesus had not gone to Jerusalem when he did?  What if Judas had not betrayed him?  What if the mob had not been so bloodthirsty? What if Pilate had been more courageous and not bowed to the demands of injustice? If only one thing had changed, the greatest injustice ever committed could have been avoided and Jesus would not have had to die.

But that conjecture misses the heart of the Gospel.  Jesus was not a victim of circumstances. Every event in the last week was intentional as Jesus was not avoiding the cross, but going directly to it.  Each act of injustice involves real guilt on those who did it, but at the same time they were used of God to bring about the necessary event of a perfect sacrifice for our sin, our only hope of forgiveness, eternal life, and a restored relationship with God.

Peter struggled with this all they way.  He planned to rescue Jesus from death before he got scared and denied Him. He just didn’t get it.  But by the time he preached his first public sermon a few week later, he finally got it. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge… Acts 2:23  All these events were the fulfillment of Scriptures illustrated and prophesied in The Story of the Old Testament, and now brought to pass.  Christ did for our sins according to the Scriptures… 1 Corinthians 15:3

For further reading on the intentionality of the Cross, I recommend: Every Step Was Love



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