Summary: This text demonstrates two examples of how God’s sovereignty effects our lives.
After the tragedy of September 11th, there was a camera crew that walked the streets in New York and asked people spiritual questions at random. I’ll never forget what one man said when asked where God was when those horrible attacks took place. He said, “I used to believe in God, but not anymore. Not now. Because if there was a God, how could something like this take place?”
I want to ask you a challenging question: “Who’s really in control?” When you look at the headlines of the newspaper and see corruption among our leaders, it makes you want to ask, “Who’s really in control?” When there is murder and crime, when known criminals are allowed to walk free, it makes you want to ask, “Who’s really in control?” Today we are going to look at the sovereignty of God. When we talk about the sovereignty of God, what we’re basically saying is “God is in control.” And even though it seems that no one is in control, or Satan is in control, or this world is in control, in spite of what we see, we believe that God is still in control.
Today, we see in the Word of God one of the most powerful examples of the fact that even in the difficult times of life, God is in control. As Jesus was approaching the end of his earthly ministry, a special meeting was held by the Sanhedrin, or the Jewish religious leaders of his day. These enemies of Jesus decided to get together and have a meeting. By the way, it’s interesting that those who opposed Jesus the most were not atheists or pagans, but they were very religious people. They were people who substituted empty rituals for a real relationship with God. They watered down the gospel until salvation was nothing more than going through the motions and keeping the tedious religious rules which, conveniently, they made up! Well if you recall, earlier in this chapter we read of how Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Some saw this miracle and got saved. However, some saw this miracle and got mad. They got mad because they didn’t like the fact that many were becoming believers of Jesus Christ. And they complained about this Jesus to the priests and the Pharisees. Finally, things got so bad, they decided they needed to have “one of those meetings”. This Jesus had to be stopped at all costs. These were powerful, educated and highly influential people. They were determined to stop Jesus.
We see through this meeting that even though these men intended evil, God was in control all along. In fact, I believe that there are two examples of God’s sovereignty, or control, in this passage. First we see that...
1) God is in control of the PLANS which men would DEVISE.
In verse forty-eight, we read that the Jews opposed Jesus because they feared a riot by his followers. Most of the Jews were looking for a political Savior. One who would save them from the Romans. Instead, God sent a spiritual savior, one who will save us from our sins. They were afraid that if enough people began to follow Jesus, some of them might be crazy enough to believe that they could topple Rome. So in their minds, they had to stop Jesus in order to save the nation of Israel from destruction.
In the middle of this meeting, a man named Caiphas stood up to speak. Caiphas had a specially intense hatred of Jesus. Later we read that before Jesus was crucified, he had Jesus blind folded and beaten and he mocked Jesus, saying, “If you’re a prophet, tell us who it is that is hitting you!” This same Caiphas says, “Listen you dummies, don’t you all know there is only one solution here?” (Look again at verse fifty.) “It is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.” When Caiphas stood up and spoke at that meeting, he thought he had an original idea. His idea was to kill Jesus so the people might be saved. But little did he know that the plan which he spoke on that day was already God’s plan. In Revelation, Jesus is called the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Hundreds of years before, the prophet Isaiah said that Jesus would be “wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities”. Jesus himself told his disciples that when he arrived in Jerusalem, he would be betrayed, arrested, tried crucified, and on the third day, rise again. God’s plan all along was that Jesus die on a cross in Golgotha to pay the penalty for your sins and for mine. Here is a man who absolutely hated Jesus. Yet God took his own evil intentions and twisted them to do exactly what he intended to do. God took his very words and turned them into a prophesy. Look at verse 51, “He did not speak of his own initiative.” This doesn’t mean that God put words in his mouth, but God took Caiphas’ plan and turned it around for his own purpose. God took the evil mind of a sinful man and placed in his mind the idea of the cross! Yes, Jesus would die to save the nation, but not from the Romans and not just the nation of Israel, but everyone who would place their faith in Christ.