Sermon session

Plots & Plans

Session #148 Plots & Plans

Scripture Matthew 26:1-5

Summary Something was cooking in the plots and plans of the religious leaders and it sure didn’t look good for Jesus. In Matthew 26:1-5, the Son of Man would be served a curved ball. He saw it coming, yet stepped up to the plate and moved purposefully on His kingdom assignment. Would you?

Introduction

Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” 3 Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4 and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” Matthew 26:1-5

The Gospel of Matthew is a kingdom manual, written to the Jews (God’s kingdom people) to introduce the Christ, the King of the kingdom to them. In much the same way, the church or ekklesia ( God’s kingdom people) also requires a reintroduction to Jesus our King and the ways of the kingdom.

This passage closes the 5th and final kingdom discourse in a similar fashion as the other four earlier discourses (Matthew 7:28, 11.1, 13.53, 19:1, 26:1). Jesus as the new Moses, issuing the ways of the kingdom, speaks to a new Israel, his kingdom people, as Moses had spoken to Israel in Deuteronomy 32:45-46. 

This passage also introduces and sets the tone for the narrative that will follow – the Passion Narrative. In just five verses, we notice interesting twists and turns as we consider the plan of God and the plots of men.

The Plan of God

Matthew 26:1-2 gives Jesus’ fourth prediction of His suffering, a summary and a deliberate reminder after it was mentioned three times in Matthew 16:21, 17:22-23, 20:17-19. It is not just a reminder but also a prophetic declaration, that this suffering falls well within what is allowed and planned by God. Jesus knew and accepted God’s plan and was not surprised by the plots of men. The enemy wanted to foil His assignment but only served to help Him fulfil it. We also see Jesus’ kingdom assignment to save, redeem and deliver. A precise timing was given and the Passover was a very important occasion for this prophecy to take place. We note the significance that when Jesus was delivered up to be crucified, He will be the Lamb of God who takes over the sins of not only the Jews but the world (John 1:29,  1Corinthians 5:7)

In these first two verses, we see the hand and plan of God. We turn to the next three verses to understand the plots of men.

The Plots of Men

Matthew 26:3-5 begins with “Then …” which can be chronological since there was an assembling at Caiaphas’ place while Jesus was talking to His disciples. It can also be logical as the plotting has been ongoing for a while and only culminated in this meeting for a more deliberate decision. As early as in Matthew 12:14, after the confrontation about the Sabbath, the Pharisees were already starting to plot against Jesus. It was not an overnight, knee-jerk reaction but a carefully considered course of action to arrest and kill Jesus (John 11:53, Matthew 21:45-46). The problem was that they were unsure if the Passover was a good time, so they “plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him” by not arresting Him publicly. Judas soon offered to contribute to their plots and plans (Matthew 26:14-15).

On the surface, the plots of men seemed so different from the plans of God. Yet, in the end, they serve a perfect purpose. We will next go on to see what we can learn from this.

Implications: What can we learn from this? 

God’s Sovereignty. Man’s Responsibility.

Through the irony of this passage, we see God’s sovereignty at work and man’s responsibility at play. It is not either-or but both-and. God’s sovereignty does not remove or negate Man’s free will or responsibility. We each have a moral choice to choose how we live and who we align to. We all have free will to make our decisions, but God’s plan will always be accomplished!  

Man’s plots are futile. God’s plans will be fulfilled.

There is no use fighting against God, His Anointed, His Son and the people of God and His kingdom. In the end, the plots of men will come to nothing; the plans of God will be fulfilled (Psalm 31:13, Luke 23:46, Psalm 31:5, Psalm 2, Acts 5:38-39). Once we know and understand this, our part is to keep seeking His will, His counsel and plans, not our own or anyone else’s (Proverbs 19:21).

Do not be wise in your own ways. Be wise in God’s ways

In the book of Proverbs, we are told twice: “There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12 & 16:25). What is right to you may not be right at all. If we are wise only in our own ways, our ideas of success, ignorance of the things of God, instincts of self-preservation all become impediments to kingdom assignments; not just for ourselves but for others too. But if we know, understand and accept the sovereign plan of God, we will gladly and readily submit and commit everything to Him.

Do not move by Man’s Agenda. Move on God’s Assignment.

Let us learn from Jesus who chose to stay and move on His assignment. Plots and plans may distract or disrupt but we are to remain focused and faithful to know and fulfil our God-given kingdom assignments.  In the last days, the anti-Christ, his plots and plans, will be of great deception (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12). Against these deceptive plots, God’s plan will prevail. Again, do not miss the sovereignty of God and free will of Man at play here and see how God will use the misalignments of hearts to align with His purposes. With all the truth and teaching, we have free will to choose how we want to live and respond. If you still choose to be deluded and tricked by the craftiness of the enemy, God will answer you according to the idols in your hearts! (Ezekiel 14:1-5). Do not be distracted by the plots and plans for the enemy, by any and every teaching about the end times, or be led astray by questionable prophetic types. Like Jesus, stay focused, and move on your God-given kingdom assignments.

Conclusion

As we have noted, this transitional passage is full of irony, twists and turns, plots and plans. The religious leaders appear to have the upper hand. Yet, we see a much Higher Hand. Jesus sets the perfect example for us to follow. Against the plots of men, He submitted fully to the plans of God. In our own walk with Jesus and our service to the King, let us be encouraged to stay the course, to persevere, to remain true to the end; applying what we have learnt.