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Summary: "God’s determined purpose and foreknowledge." The New International Version calls it "God’s set purpose and foreknowledge." The King James Version calls it "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." Perhaps the best translation is the Revised

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Proclaiming His Majesty Series 2006

God’s Set Purpose

Acts 2:22-23

Story of the engineer who operated a drawbridge. Had to make a choice between his son or a train full of people.

It has all the ingredients of a good sermon illustration. It is emotional. It is dramatic. It will break your heart. There is only one problem. It is not accurate.

This powerful story is used to describe the sacrifice of Christ. Moreover, it does have its parallel. God could not save man without killing his own son. God did twist with grief as he slammed the gears of death down on Jesus. However sad it may be, it is true that many have whizzed by the scene of the crime oblivious to the sacrifice that could save them from certain death.

There is one inference from the story that is in desperate need of correction.

Read the verse and see if you can find the revealing phrase.

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death" (Acts 2:22-23).

"God’s determined purpose and foreknowledge." The New International Version calls it "God’s set purpose and foreknowledge." The King James Version calls it "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." Perhaps the best translation is the Revised Standard Version, which says it is "the definite plan and foreknowledge of God."

Regardless how you phrase it the truth of God’s word remains the same. The cross was no accident!

The cross wasn’t some "Plan B" response from God. It was not a tragic surprise. Christ’s work at Calvary was not some knee-jerk reaction to a world hell bound to destruction. The cross was not some patch job or stop gap measure.

The death of Christ was part of a plan. It was a calculated choice. "Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him" (Isaiah 53:10). The cross was part of the plan from the beginning. From the moment the fruit touched the lips of Eve, the shadows of the cross could be seen on the horizon.

What does all this mean? Jesus planned his own sacrifice. He intentionally planted the tree from which his cross would be taken. He knew the exact location of the iron ore that would eventually be cast into the nails that would pierce his hands and feet because he placed it there. He voluntarily placed Judas in the womb of a woman. He set into motion the political machinery that would send Pilate to Jerusalem. It also means he did not have to do it, but he did.

It was God’s set purpose it was no accident!

Jesus was born crucified. Whenever Jesus became conscious of who he was, he also became conscious of what he had to do. This explains the determination on his face as he turned to go to Jerusalem for the last time. He was on his death march. "Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" (Luke 9:51).

This explains what he means when he says, "Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself" (John 10:17-18).

The cross explains:

Why he told the Pharisees that the "goal" of his life would be fulfilled on the third day after his death.

The mysterious appearance of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration to discuss his departure. They had come to give him one last word of encouragement.

Why John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the crowds as "the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world."

"From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day" (Matthew 16:21).

The ropes used to tie his hands and the soldiers used to lead him to the cross were unnecessary. They were only incidental. Had they not been there, had there been no trial, no Pilate no crowd, the crucifixion would have occurred anyway.

Had Jesus been forced to nail himself to the cross, he would have done it. It was not the soldiers who killed him, not the screams of the mob: It was his devotion to us. You and I that is who killed Christ. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:6-8).

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