Five Catalysts to the Crucifixion
Acts 2.22-24; John 3.16-17
God’s definite, prearranged plan to have Jesus Christ crucified and killed on a cross.
God’s purpose to provide salvation in Jesus Christ for all who would believe. God’s desire is to save you.
Five Catalysts to the Crucifixion
1) 1 ½ months before the crucifixion Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Already raised two people in early ministry in Galilee (Luke 7.11-17; Matthew 9.18-26). The raising of Lazarus from the dead was a public event with many witnesses of a well known man near Jerusalem. John 11.18-19, 31, 45. After this event the leaders of Jerusalem made a definite calculated plan to kill Jesus (John 11.47-57). Jesus hid for 1 ½ months and then on Saturday of the week before the crucifixion he returned to the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus and was greeted by many from Jerusalem. The chief priest decided to kill Lazarus as well (John 12.9-11).
2) Sunday of crucifixion week. The triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem (John 12.12-13) The raising of Lazarus from the dead had a large impact in creating the enthusiastic crowd that greeted Jesus (John 12.17-19; Matthew 12.17-19).
3) Monday of crucifixion week. Jesus cleansing the Temple (Mark 11.16-18).
4) Tuesday of crucifixion week. Jesus’ public denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees (Luke 23.13-36). Woe is a severe judgment of God and Jesus publicly condemned them. Last day of public ministry, much teaching recorded in NT.
5) Tuesday evening of crucifixion week. Renewed determination to kill Jesus (Matthew 26.1-5). Judas betrays Jesus to the chief priests. Arrest in the garden according to God’s plan not the plan of the chief priests.
God carried out a precise plan for the purpose of saving the world through Jesus Christ. The only way to God and to heaven is through Jesus Christ. God deserves our worship in giving our whole lives to Him in holiness and service. Today is the day to give yourself to God and His plan for your life.
Five Catalysts to the Crucifixion Acts 2.22-24; John 3.16-17
In these verses from Acts we learn that it was God’s definite, prearranged, plan to have Jesus Christ crucified and killed on a cross. Even though it was lawless men who did the killing, it was God who orchestrated the circumstances that fulfilled His plan.
We learn from the verses in John that God’s purpose in sending His Son Jesus Christ to the cross was to provide salvation from sin and eternal life to all those who would believe in Jesus Christ.
God had a purpose to save this world and a plan to make that purpose a reality, and that plan required the death of Jesus Christ on a cross. Not only did God have a purpose and a plan to save the world by the death of Jesus Christ, but it is God’s desire to save you from your sin and to give you eternal life through Jesus Christ. Consider your relationship with God today before it is too late for you to walk in God’s way.
Over the next couple of weeks we are going to remember the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, his death on the cross, his burial, and his resurrection on the third day. All of these things happened to Jesus Christ according to God’s plan. God’s plan was for the purpose of providing for the payment of sin, the forgiveness of sin, and the gift of eternal life to all who put their trust in Jesus Christ.
This morning I want to look at five events which acted as a catalyst to fulfill the plan of God to kill Jesus on the cross. A catalyst is something that speeds up an intended result. I want to present to you five catalysts to the crucifixion of Christ.
The first event takes place about 1 ½ months before the crucifixion of Christ. It is the raising of Lazarus from the dead. Most of us read the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead without connecting it to the crucifixion of Christ, but the Gospel of John shows that the resurrection of Lazarus was a central catalyst to the crucifixion of Christ.
Before raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus had already raised two people from the dead – the daughter of Jairus the synagogue ruler, and the son of the widow of Nain (Luke 7.11-17; Matthew 9.18-26). Both of these raisings from the dead were in Galilee and early in the ministry of Jesus. These two raisings, which happened around the same time, may have come to the ears of the leaders in Jerusalem but did not cause them much concern and may even have been dismissed by them as rumors about an unknown preacher from an unimportant and unsophisticated area of the country.
But the raising of Lazarus from the dead was different. This even happened right in the backyard of the Scribes and Pharisees, and Sadducees, just two miles from Jerusalem. By this time Jesus was a well know controversial teacher/preacher/healer/exorcist/prophet. The leaders in Jerusalem could not ignore this event and pretend it never happened. Not only was this a public event with many witnesses but Lazarus and his family were well known in Jerusalem. John 11.18-19 says, “Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother”. The raising of Lazarus from the dead was not an obscure event, done in obscure place, to an unknown person.
When Jesus came to Mary and Martha, Lazarus was already dead and had been already four days buried in the tomb. There was no question that Lazarus was dead.
We are told in John 11.31 that when Mary went out to meet Jesus, “the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there”. But Mary went out to meet Jesus and then accompanied Jesus to the tomb of her brother Lazarus. At the tomb Jesus called Lazarus to come out and Lazarus came out alive.
Then we are told in John 11.45, “Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what he did, believed in him (Jesus), but some of them went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done”.
Up until this time Jesus had been causing trouble to the leaders in Jerusalem by doing miracles, casting out demons, healing sick people, and teaching about the Kingdom of God. In every discussion with the Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees, Jesus showed their ignorance and hypocrisy. In every circumstance where the Scribes and Pharisees tried to trap Jesus into saying something that would get him in trouble with the Romans or with their own teachings, Jesus showed their ignorance of God and their lack of relationship with God. The Scribes and Pharisees and Sadducees were angry at Jesus and even tried to stone him a couple of times in a flare up of anger, but they had not yet made a definite calculated plan to kill Jesus. Slowly Jesus was gaining a following of disciples and the raising of Lazarus from the dead increased his popularity. It was the raising of Lazarus from the dead that caused the leaders of Israel to finally take decisive action against Jesus. Because of the raising of Lazarus from the dead the Jesus problem was escalated to a new level. That was God’s plan being worked out.
Please turn to John 11.47-57. [Read]
The leaders of Israel were worried about Jesus leading a popular uprising against Rome which would mean the loss of their power and leadership status, and the privileges they now enjoyed of ruling themselves as a nation even while under Roman authority. They were not concerned about spiritual renewal but about political reactions and loss of their own power. The solution given was to kill Jesus. We are told that from that day on they made plans to put Jesus to death. They put out the word that if anyone knew where Jesus was, they should be informed so that they might arrest him. For the next month and a half Jesus left town and hid from public contact.
On the day before Jesus’ kingly entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey, Jesus returned to Bethany and to the home of Lazarus and Mary and Martha. We read in John 12.9-11, “When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus”. Both Jesus and Lazarus had to be silenced by death.
The raising of Lazarus from the dead was the first event that acted as a catalyst to the leaders of Israel to the killing of Jesus on the cross.
The second event that acted as a catalyst to the crucifixion of Christ was the triumphant entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, which we call Palm Sunday. We will focus more on this event next Sunday. Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, acclaimed by the people as a king, the son of David, the representative of the Lord. John writes, “The next day large crowds that had come to the feast heard the Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel! (12.12-13). John gives us more insight into the crowds and writes, “The crowd that had been with Jesus when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they had heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, ‘You see that you are gaining nothing. Look the world has gone after him.” (12.17-19). Matthew writes, “the whole city was stirred up”. The possibility of a popular uprising led by Jesus the prophet and king seemed imminent to the leaders of Israel and brought great fear to them. Jesus must be stopped and the only way to stop Jesus is to kill him. The public, enthusiastic, triumphant entrance into Jerusalem by Jesus was the second event that acted as a catalyst to killing Jesus on the cross.
The third event that acted as a catalyst to the leaders of Israel to killing Jesus on the cross was Jesus cleansing the Temple. The day after the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, Jesus went to the Temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the Temple, and overthrew the tables of the money-changers. Mark writes, “And Jesus would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And he was teaching them and saying to them, ‘Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations? But you have made it a den of robbers’”. And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching” (11.16-18). The cleansing of the temple was a small sign of the upheaval that Jesus could cause to the political power and lucrative economy held by the leaders in Jerusalem. They were not going to sit back and let this happen. The were not going to let Jesus cause their downfall. Jesus needed to be killed.
The fourth event which acted as a catalyst in fulfilling the plan of God for the leaders of Israel to kill Jesus on a cross was Jesus’ public denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees (Luke 23.13-36). This happened on the next day after the cleansing of the temple, the Tuesday of passion week. That day is filled with Jesus teaching. It is the last day of his public teaching. One of the things Jesus did on that day was pronounce seven woes on the Scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy and spiritual blindness. A woe in the Bible is a severe judgment of God. Jesus publicly and sternly condemned the Scribes and Pharisees and this made them all the more determined to be rid of Jesus for good.
The raising of Lazarus from the dead was the original catalyst that led the Sanhedrin to the decision to kill Jesus. After that Jesus was in hiding for a month and half. Then he returned to the house of Mary and Martha and Lazarus a week before his crucifixion. On the Sunday he entered triumphantly into Jerusalem provoking afresh the leaders of Israel in their plan to kill Jesus. On Monday he cleansed the temple and intensified their determination to kill him. On Tuesday Jesus publicly denounced the Scribes and Pharisees and taught the people. The leaders of Israel were all the more determined to kill Jesus. We read in Matthew 26.1-5, “When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, ‘You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified’. Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, ‘Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people’”. It was their plan to arrest and kill Jesus, but not during the feast. God’s plan was to have Jesus crucified at Passover at the center of the feast.
The fifth event which acted as a catalyst to the leaders of Israel killing Jesus by crucifixion was the betrayal of Judas. On Tuesday evening just two days before the crucifixion of Christ, Judas went to the chief priests and offered to lead them to Jesus in order that they might arrest him. The chief priest paid Judas 30 pieces of silver and waited to be called by Judas to make the arrest. The first opportunity for a quiet arrest came after the Passover meal when Jesus was with his disciples in the garden of Gethsemane. This may have been sooner than the chief priests wanted to arrest Jesus because they did not want to arrest Jesus during the feast but it was God’s plan to have Jesus crucified as the Lamb of God the perfect Passover sacrifice.
Let me sum this message up by saying there is no doubt that God had a precise plan for the crucifixion of Christ on the cross and that God sovereignly arranged the fulfillment of His plan, including these five catalytic events which caused the chief priests to determine to kill Jesus, and arranged the time for that killing to take place, and how it was going to take place. It is also very clear in the Bible that God arranged these events in order to provide a way for man to be forgiven of sin, and be made right with God, and to receive the gift of eternal life through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The action of God’s Love to save us in Christ deserves our full worship. Worship is the giving our whole lives to God in holiness and service. It also means that God’s way of salvation in Christ is the only way to heaven. God’s plan to crucify Christ on the cross for sin, and God’s purpose to save men and women in Christ is the only way that God has provided for man to be brought back into relationship with Him.
God has made the way to God in Jesus Christ and asks us to walk in it every day. May God grip all of us with a deeper knowledge of His Love and Grace and Power, and may we all walk in worship of our Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.