I always wonder about the difference between our plans and God’s plans. Sometimes they align, other times they overlap, and sometimes we have wildly different plans. In my own life, God is often like one of those retractable dog leashes. God will let me run for a while in my own direction, and then the leash locks, and I have to stop and reconsider.
Here we hear that both Jesus and the religious leaders know that his death is coming. They both can see ahead to the same event, and yet they understand it in very different ways. The religious leaders think they’re getting rid of a problem. It’s not clear to us exactly how Jesus understands his coming death, and theologians will debate until the end of time about what it means. A substitution for our sins? God working through a wrong to make a statement about the limited power of human evil, when faced with God’s plans? A tragic miscarriage of justice, mirrored over and over in our human world?
No matter how we understand the death of Jesus, we all agree that God was at work through it, in some way showing that the Divine never gives up on humanity. The plans of human wrongdoers became part of God’s plans, as God intervenes to bring life out of evil and death. As we make daily lists and strategic plans, it’s easy to miss the plans that God has. Holy Week is an enduring reminder that God’s plans come alive in the world, either through us or in spite of us.
Loving God, tune our hopes to yours, and our dreams to the ones you have for all of humanity. As we make plans, may we find your grace-filled foundation underneath all that we hope to do. In Jesus; name, Amen.
Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a multi-cultural Presbyterian. She is the author of Meeting God at the Mall.
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