Just over a week ago we celebrated “Good Friday.” Since when does the brutal murder of a 33-year-old Jewish man constitute anything “good”? The betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus Christ was not a good thing. It’s the worst crime ever committed in human history. All of us are guilty of that crime, because our sin put Him on the cross. Yet the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus Christ was necessary to who Jesus is and what He came to do.

Jesus' death was good in that it provided atonement: a necessary sacrifice for sin, a satisfaction of God’s wrath, the way of being reconciled to God, and the means of redemption whereby we are purchased out of slavery to sin by Jesus’ shed blood. This was God’s "script" for offering us salvation. Christ’s death on the cross was God’s plan all along.

God Is Never Not in Control

John 18-19 affirms God’s plan and His control of the situation in no fewer than 12 different instances. John 18:4 is a clear statement setting the stage for what was to come. Jesus knew what was about to happen to Him (John 18:4-8), and his knowledge translated to action. Jesus is God; He never stopped being God, and all powers are subordinate to Him.

He revealed himself, did not hide, publicly and clearly identified himself, and made no attempt to run away. Knowing that His hour was at hand (John 13), Jesus welcomed his capture and submitted to the cross because He wrote the script to this story. John 19 points to several Old-Testament Scriptures which prophesied what was about to happen to Him:

  • John 19:24 – fulfillment of Scripture about dividing up his garments
  • John 19:36 – his bones will not be broken
  • John 19:37 – the Jews will look on the One they pierced

Even down to the details of Christ’s clothes, the condition of his body, and the way he was tortured show that this was not man’s wickedness running amuck. God was always in control, and nothing took place that was outside of his permission. The disciples didn't realize this in the moment, and Peter even tried to take the situation into his own hands. But later they realized this truth; consider what Peter says in Acts 2:22-23 and Acts 4:23-28. John wants his readers to see that nothing happened outside of God’s control. At no moment is He ever not in control.

Nothing Can Hold Back the Inevitable Progress of God’s Mission

All of the failure of Christ’s friends and the scheming by Christ’s enemies served to help accomplish the plan God had all along. John 19:28-30 says that on the cross, Jesus knew His plan was about to be completed and said, “it is finished.” Greek Scholar William Mounce says this about Christ’s final statement:

“Tetelestai,” which is translated, “It is finished.” This one-word summary of Jesus’ life and death is perhaps the single most important statement in all of Scripture. The word means “to complete,” “to bring to perfection.” Jesus had fully done the work God the Father sent him to do. Paul spends Romans 5 discussing this very fact, that our salvation is sure because Christ’s death totally defeated the effects of Adam’s sin, completely.

But the tense of the verb, the “perfect” tense, brings out even more of what Jesus was saying. The perfect tense describes an action that was fully completed and has present-day consequences. Jesus could have used a different tense to simply say “the work is done.” But there is more, there is hope for you and for me. Because Jesus fully completed his task, the ongoing effects are that you and I are offered the free gift of salvation so that we can be with him forever. Praise the Lord. Tetelestai.

When we think that God’s plan is being thwarted, God does not need us to take control of the situation to bring about the outcome we think is best (John 18:10-11). Peter’s attempt at intervening only shows the folly of living in the moment instead of living in light of history. He could not fathom a Messiah going to the cross; yet here we are, not being able to fathom a Messiah without the cross.

God is never not in control. He always cares, and He is always aware. And regardless of what has happened in your past or happening in your present, God will accomplish His mission, and this mission has your best interest in mind. Jesus is living proof of that reality. But it comes down to this:

Do you trust Him – to the point to where He is the Lord of your life? Will you trust him? You must trust Him!

Application Points

  • If God had complete control over all the circumstances surrounding Christ’s death, should you think anything less about His control over yours?
  • God’s script never removes man’s responsibility for sin. Wrong is always wrong. Even though Christ’s death provides forgiveness and eternal life, and even though we know he would rise from the grave 3 days later, He was still murdered. This great evil cannot be muted or overlooked.
  • While God’s script never removes man’s responsibility for sin, God’s script never removes God’s complete control or His sovereignty over life’s situations.
  • We will struggle with God’s script when we isolate the past or the present from the future. Our trust in God must include not just what He has allowed, but what He is doing and what He ultimately will do. We don’t know why God has allowed certain things in our lives. But we do know that He loves us, and that He is always good, and that He wants us to see it for ourselves (Psalm 34:8).
A Hymn to Encourage: "Be Still, My Soul"

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
in every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heav'nly Friend
through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
to guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
all now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul; when dearest friends depart,
and all is darkened in the veil of tears,
then shalt thou better know His love, His heart,
who comes to soothe thy sorrow and thy fears.
Be still, my soul; thy Jesus can repay
from His own fullness all He takes away.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hast'ning on
when we shall be forever with the Lord,
when disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
all safe and blessed we shall meet at last.