When we talk about preparing for death, most of us think of the “living will” we have in place, or the life insurance policy that we took out to cover expenses after we depart. No one wants to contemplate the moment they will die, let alone plan for it! Death is a pretty unsatisfying topic for sure. If we have a choice, I think most of us would like to depart in peace, in our sleep, or with no pain. Aside from the Easter bunny, Jesus’ death is a critical part of the discussion around this season. Have you ever considered that it was all planned out?
It is helpful to do a little exercise with the Bible. Psalms 22 was written roughly 1000 years before Jesus' actual death. If we compare it with the Gospel books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, you will start to see some fascinating comparisons. Remember the time difference between these authors, roughly 1000 years!
Compare Psalms 22:1 with Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34.
What phrase do you see in all three passages?
Compare Psalms 22:7 with Matthew 27:31,39, Mark 15:20,29, Luke 22:63, and Luke 23:36.
Do you see the similar response; how do they treat Him?
Compare Psalms 22:8 with Matthew 27:42-43 and Mark 15:30-32.
How did the Pharisees use the similar phrase in Psalms 22 to mock Jesus?
Compare Psalms 22:16 with Matthew 27:44, Mark 15:27, Luke 23:32, and John 19:18.
What does it mean to have evildoers encircling someone? Can you see the reference to the thieves?
Compare Psalms 22:18 with Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, and John 19:23-24.
What does it mean to cast lots? How do you think one would know this would happen 1000 years prior?
There are many other aspects of Psalms 22 that can be compared to someone dying on a cross (in particular the description is verses 14-15). The medical scientific similarities are more than coincidence; what do you think?
I hope you can see the awesome prophecy that exists in this single passage. There are more passages that predicted the events of Jesus’ death. This would indicate that somehow there was someone that knew what would happen, right?
Take some time and read Isaiah 53 (this was written hundreds of years before Jesus walked on earth and was crucified). How clearly do you see the similarity between the passage in Isaiah and what happened to Jesus on the cross?
So here is the big question, do you think there was a plan or did it all happen accidentally?
Think about these questions for a while:
Do you think it was an accident that Jesus was betrayed by Judas?
Was it a coincidence that Pilate washed his hands of Jesus?
Was it mere “happenstance” that the religious leaders of Israel despised Jesus?
Was it a random act that the Roman soldiers beat Jesus and gambled for his clothing?
What does the lack of coincidence mean or indicate about Jesus?
Do you think Jesus knew what was going to happen to Him before it happened?
Read Matthew 17:22-23. What is Jesus predicting will happen?
Read Mark 8:31-33. Why would Jesus rebuke Peter over this saying?
What do you think it means to set your mind on the things of God versus the things of man?
If we think in human terms, we will never understand the truth and richness of what God planned for us.
Ephesians 2:1-5; 8-10
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ.”
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
When we plan for our death, it is because we know that death is inevitable; so we plan often with the intention of benefiting those we care about most.
Do you think Jesus had to die? Did God have to give up His Son to come to earth?
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
As I walk through the plan that God had for Jesus and for me, I cannot help but ask, “Why?” Why would God do that for me? Why would he give up so much, just for me? If you can understand it, He did it for you as well! Why do you think he would do that?
The answer, which is hard for me to fully put into words is because He sees me as something of value. He considered my life as something worth saving, so much so, that He put into motion a plan to deliver me from my destruction and sin long before I was even born. It is really hard to fully understand how God works His plan, but we can see that He did have a plan, and His plan included you and me. To finish up, contemplate how this plan of God includes you.
How was and is the “delivery plan” for you?
Can you see that without the “delivery plan” we would not have a solution or an answer for our condition?
Does the knowledge of knowing that God has a plan give you encouragement that there is a purpose and a plan for you?
How will you apply the knowledge of the “delivery plan” to your life and how you worship God?