Was the death of Jesus Christ a tragedy? Did he make a mistake in allowing Judas to turn him in to the authorities? Should he perhaps have just stayed away from Jerusalem, and kept his head down?
Many people make the mistake of thinking that the death of Jesus Christ was a defeat: He was doing so well, until the schemers found a way of putting an end to his ministry. He came to be nice to everyone and start a new religion, and instead, he was accused, set up and killed. We believers are sometimes told that we are being “morbid” in commemorating the death of our Lord. No, on the contrary: we are celebrating his-and our-victory!
At the time of Christ even Jesus’ immediate disciples were in the dark about God’s plan. He told it to them clearly, before it all happened:
We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death, and will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20:18-19).
But the disciples didn’t get it, until after it had all happened. The two disciples on the road to Emmaus, after they had buried Jesus, were broken and their hopes and dreams, they thought, had failed, until they discovered that the stranger they were talking to on that road was the risen Christ:
He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself (Luke 24:25-26).
The plan of God, all the way along, was that the Christ would suffer for the sins of the world. All the way along? Yes. You can read it in Isaiah, known to have been written hundreds of years before Christ:
He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5).
Jesus was “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). The death of Christ wasn’t a mistake, and it wasn’t a tragedy, and it wasn’t an unforeseen circumstance: it was prepared by God all the way along, as the only way for us to be made acceptable to Him.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross (Colossians 1:19-20).
Those who set Jesus up for arrest and execution thought they were just ridding the world of a hinderance to their own power. Instead, they were being used, as willing tools in the fulfillment of the Plan of God:
But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).
And now, that plan, in process even now, is still hidden to the majority. Why? Jesus told us why:
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil (John 3:19).
If you are blessed enough to have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, your eternal destiny rests on your own head: do you reverence the Son of God, or do you reject Him because you think you have something better? Paul discussed this:
But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe 2 Corinthians 4:3-4).
This principle isn’t a nod to the Calvinistic notion of some people being given salvation and others being denied it, because Jesus by his death draws all people, not just some:
And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” This He said, signifying by what death He would die (John 12:32-33).