Jesus has been praying in the Garden of Gethsemane when the large crowd armed with swords and clouds come to arrest him. A disciple draws his sword, to which Jesus responds.
“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54 NIV)
We have to remember Jesus is the word of God.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1, 2, 14 NIV)
For Jesus to say “But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:52-54 NIV), shows not only his current awareness that there was a plan but from an eternal perspective Jesus would have known there was a certain way that it had to be fulfilled. This makes the journey to the cross of greater eternal significance. It was not ‘just the way it happened’, it was part of the plan that it happened in this way. The pain and the torture, the humiliation. Becoming sin and paying the price. All were part of the plan, all were meant to happen in that way. There is no place for excuse, there is no place for coincidence. The definite plan adds to the deep poignancy of the cross and the events surrounding it.
What I find even more impacting is that Jesus would have known these scriptures, not just as a man walking on the earth, but as the eternal word and the second member of the trinity. His mission to earth was always going to end like this, “for it must happen in this way”.
Jesus wasn’t fixing things so that they happened to fulfil scripture, there was an eternal significance to the events that they happened in this way. For us to come into relationship with God, sin had to be atoned for and the dividing wall removed, but
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8 NIV)
The plan all along was that the Father wanted a people of his own, a people that would call him father, a people who would be his sons and daughters and at the cross we see the story coming into acute focus, from that moment the events of history proceed, for it is the crux of time, everything before led up to it and everything since proceeds. You cannot live your life without considering the cross for at the cross everything changed.
We think that we have coincidences in life, but there are no such things, two particular events happening at the same time, a co-incident. We think that things just happen, and though I wouldn’t put eternal significance on every event, our cynicism detracts from much of what God would want to do and say to us and how he would lead us. God has a plan and there are times that events must happen in certain ways. Even though our circumstances can be difficult there is a certain comfort that God is after something and he has a plan and that he is watching over my every breath. Things don’t just happen. Sometimes they need to be happen in this way, maybe more than we think?