Extended reading: Matthew 25:41-46 what happens to the goats
When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 “As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5 “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.”
The key words Matthew uses are, “When Jesus finished…” to create a divide between one section and another. Jesus has been giving his disciples instructions on God’s plan for Last Days and Judgment. Now Jesus tells them that he will be crucified. The disciples could not fathom that this too was part of God’s plan.
Human treachery and wrongdoing has been part of life since the beginning. We mourn over school shootings and drive-by murders, senseless deaths from drug overdose, civilian casualties from war. How is it that God would use another act of violence, a crucifixion, to accomplish redemption for flawed humanity? How could so-called men of faith, the chief priests and elders of the people and Caiaphas, plot to arrest and kill Jesus? What does it say about them, and all of humanity, to think they were more worried about the reaction of the populace during Passover then they were about committing murder?
Judas betrayed Jesus, Peter denied him, but all of us are capable of wrongdoing. Yet Jesus consented to be the sacrifice, to take the punishment, the judgment that we deserved. God allowed him to die by crucifixion in order to set us free from the sin that enslaves us. We sorrow over human sin; we praise God that Jesus took our punishment at great cost so we are forgiven and set free.
Dear God, forgive our human treachery and the darkness in our hearts that cause great destruction. Forgive our unwillingness to change and allow your light to penetrate to the core of our being. Thank you for sending Jesus to do for us what we could not do on our own – to set us free from our sin. He did it at the cost of his life, and we humbly thank you and praise you. Help us today to live for you, through the grace of our savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.