29 Feb Words of Grace – Follow Up to Luke 22
This past Sunday we looked at Luke 22, which begins with the planning of the death of Jesus. This began our approach to Good Friday and Easter. You can hear the message here.
In the message I said that the planning of the death of Jesus by the religious leaders, Judas, and Satan was the worst kind of evil. Then I also said that God planned the death of Jesus. How can that be? Did God participate in evil?
For humans to plan the death of God the Son is the greatest evil. For God to plan the death of God the Son is the greatest love. This is because the human and demonic scheme to end the life of Jesus was motivated by rebellion against the rightful authority of God in Christ, while the motivation of God to send his Son was to provide a substitute to bear the penalty for our sins. The words of Joseph to his brothers who sold him into slavery because of jealousy apply to Judas who betrayed Jesus to those who would have him killed, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good ” (Genesis 50:20).
Why does this matter? First, we need to know that God cannot do evil.
Second, we need to know that evil cannot thwart the plans of God.
Third, we need to know that the will of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one and the same. Jesus, God the Son incarnate, willingly went to the cross for us.
Fourth, we need to know that every act of God toward his children is motivated by his love. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son ” (John 3:16). “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
J.I. Packer sums up this final point well. “‘God is love’ means that his love finds expression in everything that he says and does. The knowledge that this is so for us personally is the supreme comfort for Christians. As believers, we find in the cross of Christ assurance that we, as individuals, are beloved of God; ‘the Son of God loved me and gave himself for me’ (Galatians 2:20). Thus, so far as we are concerned, God is love to us- holy, omnipotent love- at every moment and in every event of every day’s life. Even when we cannot see the why and the wherefore of God’s dealings, we know there is love in and behind them, and so we can rejoice always, even when humanly speaking, things are going wrong. We know that the true story of our life, when known, will prove to be, as the hymn says,’mercy from first to last’- and we are content” (Knowing God, pp. 122-123).