Thursday, April 20, 2023

The Plot For A Crucifixion


    In today's post we want to consider "the plot for a crucifixion". We begin by noting the following record of the plot in Mark's Gospel. 

Mark 14:1-2 “Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him; 2 for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”

    As we turn to Mark 14, we are treading holy ground. What will follow in that chapter and the next is shaped by the plot to crucify the Lord Jesus Christ. We can note the following outline of Mark chapters 14 and 15.

1. The plot to kill Christ (14:1-2). 

2. Preparation of the body of Christ (14:3-9).

3. The betrayal of Christ (14:10-11). 

4. The final meal with Christ (14:13-31).

5. The agony in the garden by Christ (14:32-52).

6. The Jewish trial of Christ (14:53-65). 

7. A denial of Christ (14:66-72). 

8. Pilate’s trial of Christ (15:1-5).

9. The Crucifixion of Christ (15:6-40). 

10. Burial of Christ (15:42-47). 

    As mentioned, this plot in Mark 14:1-2 shapes what follows. We want to ask this question: who was responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? In answering this question, we will explore the plot which led to His crucifixion by consulting the parallel Gospel accounts and other passages in the New Testament. We will then investigate how a similar plot works in the life of the believer.

1. The plot for Jesus’ crucifixion.             Mark 14:1-2

*Pre-meditated by man.

Mark 14:10-11 "Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them. 11 They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time." Matthew 26:25 "And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.” Acts 4:27 "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel."

*Prompted by Satan.

Luke 22:3 "And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve." Luke 22:53 "While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.” John 13:2 "During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him."

*Prearranged by God.

Matthew 26:39 "And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.” Luke 22:42-44 "saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” 43 Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him. 44 And being in agony He was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground." Acts 2:23-24 "this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. 24 But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power." Acts 4:28 "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur."

*Participation by the Son.

John 13:3 "Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God." Matthew 26:1-2 "When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.”

    So, in considering the above four classifications of participants, we understand that man, Satan, God, and Jesus Himself were all involved in the crucifixion plot. Of course, God prearranged every detail. There was nothing random or out of control with respect to all that transpired leading up to and during the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. 

    Furthermore, Jesus Himself participated in two respects. As truly God, He had agreed to come to earth, become incarnate, and go to the cross. Then, as truly man, He willingly participated in His own crucifixion, never hestitating, never being a victim, but nonetheless receiving the agony that comes with experiencing God's wrath, let alone the physical, excruciating pain of crucifixion. 

    As we shall see next, the plot responsible for the crucifixion of the Son of God is used by God in the life of every Christian.

2. The plot for the Christian’s crucified life.   

    I recall listening to a sermon years ago by Charles Stanley. He recounted an archaeological discovery of an ancient church that had its baptistry shaped like a cross. I read another article about the oldest baptistry in the world, a church in Syria, where the baptistry is shaped like a coffin. Why mention this? Baptism’s meaning involves the language of crucifixion and resurrection. When we are born again by the Spirit on God in saving faith, Scripture describes us as baptized by the Holy Spirit into union with Jesus Christ. We call this the reality of the newbirth. 

    Water baptism is a re-enactment, a sign, a seal, signifying that prior reality of salvation in faith between them and God. Just as a child’s birthday party signals to those present that his or her natural birth had already occurred, so too does water baptism symbolize, signify, and state publicly that something already occurred inwardly, privately, between that person and God. 

    Moreover, water baptism is the convert’s way of stating: "I was once this way, my sins were buried with Christ, and now when I come out of this water, I’m going to walk forward and not look back." Water baptism is not where salvation occurs, since it is the God-given New Covenant sign of the miracle of the new birth and saving faith given by God prior to that. It provides an audio/visual method of conveying to all present of the miracle of regeneration that is unseen in saving faith - wherein I die, am buried, and am raised with Christ. 

    The Holy Spirit's work of uniting us to Christ's death, burial, and resurrection is called "Spirit baptism", spoken of by Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 and alluded to nearly 100 times in phrases such as "in Christ", scattered through the New Testament letters. The water baptism administered to new converts is theologically connected to the reality of the Spirit's baptizing them into union with Christ at saving faith. This is why you only see those persons who made a prior commitment of faith getting water baptized in the New Testament.  

    Consider how the Apostle Paul uses crucifixion language in describing the Christian life. 

Romans 6:3-5 "Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life." 

*Premeditated by man.

The Christian is called for involvement in their co-crucifixion with Jesus Christ. Notice how the language of crucifixion is used to describe the Christian life. Romans 6:8-11 "Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, 9 knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. 10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus."

Colossians 3:8-10 "But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him."

If the Christian tries to live for God through any other means than the plot of crucifixion, they will fail. In water baptism, not only do I see a picture of the beginnings of the Christian life, but also what ought to be the pattern for the remainder of the Christian life. 

    Some try to prop up the self through religious activity, busyness, or being moral. However, the still-remaining corruption of sin, that impulse Paul calls elsewhere “the flesh”, even in the garb of church-life, will resist God, just as much as flesh that never darkens the doors of the church (Romans 8:5-6). 

    Others think that making friends with the world will make their Christian life more palatable to others, forgetting 1 John 2:15 "Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him." 

    You and I (if you are a Christ-follower) need to see that cross not only as the tool of our salvation, but sanctification (1 Cor 15:31 “I die daily”.) It is we who must, as our Lord did, willingly go to the cross. Others will be used of God, no doubt, in mocking us and rejecting us. Fellow Christians and non-Christians alike are often included in the crucifixion pattern imposed by God upon the Christian life. 

    Unless we understand the cross-shaped nature of the Christian life, we will never be more than hapless victims of random circumstances. Jesus, the crucified one, was no victim.  The Christian living in the light of the cross, won’t be either. 

*Promptings of the kingdom of darkness.

Did you ever wonder why as a Christian you undergo so much spiritual warfare? The kingdom of darkness wants to destroy every Christian, yet they know if the Christian is pushed to die to self, then that will diffuse their efforts. Think of Jesus. Although Satan did not possess full knowledge of what all the cross would accomplish, He knew Jesus was set on going to the cross. He wanted to destroy Jesus, yet He was aware at least that Jesus had come into the world to save sinners (see 1 Timothy 1:15).

    We read these words in 1 Peter 5:6-8 

"Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, 7 casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. 8 Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." Romans 16:20 "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you."

*Prearranged by God.

This is the most important point of the plot of a crucifixion. Whenever we as Christians undergo adversity, recognize it is all prearranged by God for the purpose of conformity to the Lord Jesus. Romans 8:28-29 "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren." No wonder Paul noted the following.

Galatians 2:20 "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me."

Galatians 6:14 "But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."

*Participation by the Son.

The Son of God was active in His own crucifixion (John 10:17). He is present at all points throughout the Christian life. The crucified life includes the Son’s active involvement. His ongoing work in Heaven for you is based upon the work He accomplished here on earth. 

1 Peter 4:13-14 "but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. 14 If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you."

Acts 7:55 "But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God."


    As we close out today's post, we have noted the plot for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and that same plot working its way across the life of the Christian. 

*Pre-meditated by man.  

*Prompted by Satan. 

*Prearranged by God.  

*Participation by the Son. 

    Is it no wonder that Paul wrote what he worte in 1 Corinthians 2:1-2 "And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified."

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