The story of Jesus’ passion is such a powerful story! It seems like a train going out of control toward a mountain side and there is no one who can stop it, not Spiderman, not Superman, nobody. No human being, super powers or no, can stop Jesus’ crucifixion. “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” (Matt 26:39b)
There are a lot of agendas, a lot of plans happening in this story.
The religious authorities have Jesus in their grasp. There have been three years of sparing with Jesus on Jesus’ turf in Galilee and now Jesus is on their turf. The authorities can’t send their guards to Galilee without the guards being harmed. But now Jesus is in Jerusalem. They have the opportunity to be rid of Jesus and Jesus’ teachings that are undermining their authority.
Only it is not so easy. The crowds regard Jesus as a prophet. Arresting Jesus while Jesus is roaming the streets of Jerusalem would cause a riot and the Romans would be forced to intervene. When the Romans intervene, the results are unpredictable.
Another problem is that the high feast of the Passover is near and no violence can mar the observance. It would be better to wait until after Passover to arrest Jesus. And that seems to be the plan. Find a way to isolate Jesus after the Passover and put him away.
Judas likely had a weak connection to Jesus. Judas may, I emphasize only may because we really don’t know, may have had an agenda to follow a potential leader of a popular uprising against the Romans. Jesus’ teachings of peace and forgiveness would not be the words that Judas would want to hear.
We do know that Judas was the group treasurer. And Judas may have had an affinity for the poor. That would be consistent with someone who sought to overthrow Roman oppression thereby lifting up the economic lives of the Jews.
When a woman uses costly perfume to anoint Jesus, money that could have been used for the poor, it is more than Judas can stand. He protests about this waste of money. How can Jesus claim to be humble when he allows this extravagant act to take place? This was likely the last straw for Judas. Jesus is no leader of an insurrection. Jesus is nothing more than a hypocrite, the very kind of person Jesus criticizes.
Being thoroughly disgusted with Jesus, it seems to Judas that Jesus needs to be taught a lesson in how a good Jew should behave. Judas decides to turn Jesus over to the religious authorities, likely for Jesus’ own good. The authorities pay Judas. Judas has the means, if he likes, to help the poor.
The authority’s plan of arresting Jesus after the Passover is tossed aside because of the opportunity that Judas gives them. They decide to grasp the opening handed to them. It is time for plan B. The time to act is now.
Peter and the other disciples vow to stay with Jesus no matter what. It is a plan that will find no execution. All the disciples but Peter flee. Peter hangs around, but he denies ever knowing Jesus. When it sinks in what he has done, Peter too, flees. Another plan bites the dust.
When Judas discovers that the religious authorities had much more in mind than to teach Jesus a good lesson, Judas, in deep despair, kills himself.
All these plans, were they written, would have looked good on paper. The only plan that counted and the only plan that reached fruition was God’s. It was the salvation of the world that was at stake and not everyone’s little plans. Even Jesus asked about a change in plans, but it was not to be. The cross still waited for Jesus.
We all make plans. Some plans work and some plans don’t work. Some plans require a great deal of planning and some plans don’t. Some plans need a great deal of effort, some plans don’t.
For many years now at this time of the year, many people make grand plans. Those plans are in the form of brackets – the NCAA basketball tournament. Every year, confident basketball fans fill out their brackets confident that they will predict the winning team. Year after year, many hopes are crushed. This year’s upsets smashed everyone’s brackets. In the end, a number seven seed and a number eight seed played for the championship. At least in the women’s bracket the championship game was between two unbeaten teams.
The odds are so long of anyone filling out a perfect bracket that this year there was a one billion dollar prize to anyone who managed such a feat. The odds are 1 in 9.2 quintillion. That’s a really big number. The billion dollars were quite safe. Of course next year, plans will be made and plans will be crushed.
The one plan we don’t have to worry about is God’s plan. It’s all done for us. That which once separated us from God is gone. We are children of God.
The final plan the religious authorities have for Jesus and his followers is to place a guard at the tomb. That was another plan that didn’t fare so well.