God is Sovereign, and as such, the plan of redemption always included the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8). There was no other way. The penalty of sin is death, and a Just God required a sacrifice of sinlessness to be offered for those who were under His condemnation. In God’s omniscient and omnipotent Providence, the death of Jesus was all part of a pre-existent plan to satisfy His wrath and to extend His redemptive love to the fallen descendants of Adam.
The death of Jesus was also reactionary, but only in the minds and hearts of the religious leaders and the Roman executioners. When you read the gospels, it doesn't take long to find reasons why the religious leaders wanted to kill Jesus. They despised Him. They hated His new teaching, His bold claims, and His seemingly brash actions. His miracles stood as a frustrating testament to the veracity of His claims. Because of this, the religious crowd constantly sought to undo the things that He had done. Their antipathy reached such an unhealthy level that eventually the gospel of John says they even sought to kill Lazarus after he had been raised Him from the dead by Jesus. It is no wonder they would eventually turn to killing Jesus.
And at the height of their frustration and hatred for Jesus, He came to Jerusalem and stoked their fury. Entering the temple complex, He devastated the tables of the corrupt money-exchangers who offered “acceptable money” to purchase temple offerings, for a fee of course. He turned to the dove and lamb handlers who were extorting their countrymen out of their money in the “name of God,” and with a braided cord He whipped them until they fled from the temple porch.
“Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? But you have made it a den of thieves.” He was challenging the religious leaders on their own turf now. The line had been drawn, and He was not backing down from what He knew was right. God’s Temple was a place where all people should come to worship, not a place where a few enterprising businessmen could run a lucrative racket. God does not want His house tainted with sin, namely in this case, greed.
The religious leaders were certainly enraged by this outburst from Jesus. When they challenged His authority their attempts were only frustrated by His overwhelming logic. So, they continued on throughout the week plotting and planning His destruction. How would they be able to undo Him? How could they destroy Him? They would have to find someone close to Him. In their minds if they could kill Him they would completely undo all of His purposes. Little did they know that by fulfilling their reactionary sinful desires they would not be thwarting His plans, but rather would be accomplishing the very thing for which the Sovereign God had sent Jesus – redemption through His death.
Food For Thought: Reread v.27-33. In context, what “authority” are the priests and scribes questioning in Jesus? How did He masterfully handle their question?