So this past weekend I preached on Acts 2:22-36. I'm amazed at God. In Peter's sermon, he's talking about Jesus and how the people had delivered Him over to be crucified, even though they knew and saw the things that God did through Him. These mighty works, wonders and signs were all ways that God attested to Jesus. They were His way of shouting, "This is my Son, Jesus. He is the One who is to come."
But what amazes me most is Peter's comment before he says that they crucified and killed Jesus. He says that Jesus was delivered up by the definite plan and foreknowledge of God.
I encourage you to listen to the whole sermon, but here's some thoughts that we talked about.
Many will write this off as simply God's foreknowledge. In other words, God responded to man sinning by planning Jesus' death. But let's look at it closer.
What does "definite plan" mean? Why did God "plan" it? When did God "plan" it? These questions, I think, will greatly affect our thoughts and even our worship of God.
When I think of someone having a definite plan, I think of an architect. Think about it. Have you ever looked closely at blueprints. There is time and effort put into the blueprint so that the exact plan is accomplished to bring about a certain result. That's what God's definite plan was, a blueprint (sort of) of how He wanted to accomplish a certain result.
Why did God plan Jesus' death? Love. Romans 5:8 says, "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." In other words, God planned for Jesus to die because it was the very best way to show you and me that He loves us. Jesus said in John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lays down his life for his friends." So God planned to show us in the best way possible, Jesus' death, that He loves us, and that there is no greater love than his.
Finally, when did He plan it? This is a tough one. For many it is difficult. Our own nature wants to cry out that God must have done the planning after Adam sinned. But that doesn't fit with the teaching we get in Scripture. Nor does it best demonstrate God's love for us. Let's look at both of those:
Revelation 13:8 says, "and all who dwell on earth will worship it (the antichrist), everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that was slain." Did you catch that? The book of life of the Lamb that was slain. The Lamb is Jesus. And when was the book of life of the Lamb that was slain written? Before the foundation of the world. When God wrote the book of life of the Lamb that was slain, no one had sinned. There weren't even people yet. God's definite plan before the foundation of the world was to sacrifice His Son for the sins of the world that hadn't happened yet.
As I said earlier, the second reason God had to have planned it before there was sin rather than in response to sin is that it best demonstrated His love. Let me give you this picture. Though I don't do this enough, my wife loves receiving flowers from me. But which way demonstrates my love most? Is it when I bring flowers because I screwed up and want to make amends? Or is it when I plan to demonstrate my love by bringing home unexpected flowers to say, "I love you honey." I know that is a small example compared to God's huge example, but I think it helps. God planned the best way to show his love, before there was a need.
The point: God loves the world so much that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes will not die but will be given eternal life.