"'And now friends, I know you had no idea what you were doing when you killed Jesus, and neither did your leaders. But God who, through the preaching of all the prophets had said all along that His Messiah would be killed, knew exactly what you were doing and used it to fulfil His plans.'" Acts 3:17-18 (The Message).
It's a mystery - this thing called the sovereignty of God! He did not create human beings to be puppets and yet, through our choices and even our failures, He works out His purposes in human lives and human history -- and He holds us accountable for what we do.
When we take a step back and consider the life of Jesus as a whole, it becomes clear that He was not a victim of religious hatred or prejudice, nor was He a martyr for some cause He was championing. His life and His death were purposeful.
How many times did He have the opportunity to avoid the cross had He just kept His mouth shut instead of speaking out against the religious leaders to arouse their rage and hatred. It was almost as though He were deliberately out to get Himself killed -- and He was. Yet His intention was not primarily to provoke them to murder but to expose their hearts.
He was never afraid or reticent to speak the truth if there was a chance that people would see themselves as God saw them and turn to Him for mercy and forgiveness. The fact that it had the opposite effect on the Pharisees was an exposure of what was really in them.
All of this played into God's hands and contributed to His grand plan to offer His Son up as an atoning sacrifice for the sin of the whole world. Men had to kill Jesus. We had to kill Him to silence His exposure of our hearts and to confirm our guilt before God. We thought that, by killing Jesus we could get God off our backs once and for all but instead, He came back from the dead and now graciously offers us forgiveness and a place in His family and in His kingdom we don't deserve.
This sounds great when we are talking about God's great redemption plan, but what about our puny lives? How do we fit into the bigger picture? How do our ignorant blunders and even our deliberate rebellion serve His purposes? I can't answer that question. No one this side of eternity can.
But have you noticed how God takes broken, messed-up people who receive His mercy and start all over again and, through them, rescues other broken and messed-up lives and then, through them, resues other broken and messed-up people and...? How is that for God's sovereignty!
It's not a good thing to rebel against God, throw over His laws and spit in His face. It doesn't faze Him but it certainly ruins us. When we have finished running, hiding and trying to evade Him, He will get us anyway. Why not turn and run to Him? That's what he wants more than anything else for you.
David tried to run from God but it didn't work. "Where can I go from your Spirit?" he asked. "Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to heaven you are there, If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." Psalm 139:7-10 (NIV).
No matter how guilty we are, God invites us to turn to Him. He intentionally had Jesus killed, using man's hatred for Him to sacrifice His life for us so that we can return to Him, all our rebellious disobedience spent, and find acceptance, forgiveness and a safe place in His home.
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