God's plans
Credit:Ibrahim Akcengiz

Can God’s plans be thwarted? The Bible contains stories about God using even the most challenging and trying circumstances to accomplish His will. God’s plans and purposes are still in place. No one or nothing can thwart God’s plans. 

As we explore the events leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion during Passover, we’ll see that no matter how well-intentioned or well-planned our intentions may be, we can’t thwart God’s plans and purposes.

The plot to kill Jesus

The story of Jesus’ passion and death on the cross starts with a murder plot (Mt 26:3; Mk 14:2; Lk 22:2; Jn 11:53).

Matthew 26:1-5 describes how the religious leaders wanted to eliminate Jesus. Jesus was a growing threat to their control over people, and the religious leaders desperately wanted him removed. Here’s their conundrum:

What should we do? This man (Jesus) is performing numerous miracles. If we don’t stop him now, everyone will put their faith in him. Then the Romans will come and destroy our temple and nation (John 11:47–48). 

Attempts to silence those who speak the truth, challenge the status quo, and stand for the right have a long history. People who fight for peace, justice, and well-being are usually the victims of hate, violence, and systemic oppression. 

The contrast between two groups of people

Matthew’s gospel includes the detail of Jesus foretelling his death as part of the narrative, while the other gospels only mention Jesus’ death plot. In fact, Matthew contrasts two groups of people:

Jesus and his disciples (vv 1-2)Religious leaders (vv 3 – 5)
When Jesus had finished teaching, he told his disciples, “You know that two days from now will be Passover. That is when the Son of Man will be handed over to his enemies and nailed to a cross.”At that time, the chief priests and the nation’s leaders were meeting at the home of Caiaphas the high priest. They secretly planned to have Jesus arrested and put to death.
But they said, “We must not do it during Passover, because the people will riot.”

Jesus foretells his death on the cross during Passover as part of his teaching to the disciples. On the other hand, the religious leaders secretly plan to have Jesus arrested and put to death.

Jesus was hugely popular, so the religious leaders were naturally worried about extreme reactions. It was imperative, then, for the religious leaders to avoid a riot during Passover.

Here’s the glaring contrast: Jesus says he’ll die during Passover, but the religious leaders planned on killing him after the festival to prevent a riot (Mt. 26:5).

Jesus – the lamb of God

Ultimately, what Jesus said happened. He was taken into custody, tried by a religious court, and crucified. The death of Jesus on the cross during Passover is full of symbolism. He was “the lamb of God” who bore his people’s sins.

Jesus offered himself willingly as the supreme sacrifice. He brought salvation to humanity through his vicarious suffering. It wasn’t a victim. Rather than being a victim, he was a victor. He died so that we might live and enjoy “abundant life”—life in all its fullness.

We are more than winners

God is reclaiming the world for himself. He is working out His plans and purposes. He invites us to be partakers in this “grand plan” of redemption. We are called to establish the REAL, the EXCELLENT, and the DELIGHTFUL.

It’s not easy challenging the status quo, speaking the truth, and standing up for justice and peace. We may “suffer” a great deal and even face death. However, God uses our suffering to accomplish his plans and purposes.

Therefore, we aren’t victims of hate or clever schemes. We are winners. Thanks be to God, who in Christ Jesus always leads us in a triumphal procession and through us spreads the fragrance (2 Cor. 2:14).

God’s plans and purposes remain

Matthew’s contrast between the two groups teaches us something else, too. No one can stop God’s plans. The religious leaders wanted to make sure there was no incident during Passover. Interestingly, Jesus was arrested, tried, and crucified during Passover. The plans and purposes of God remain.


No one or thing can thwart God’s plans and purposes. 

It is important that you take courage from this profound lesson and be willing to face suffering with courage and determination. Reclaiming the world for God requires you to take up the cross, follow Jesus, and devote yourself to establishing the REAL, the EXCELLENT, and the DELIGHTFUL.

God is reclaiming the world for himself. We are called to be partakers in remaking God’s world. We may suffer. But we are on the winning side.

Samuel Thambusamy is a PhD candidate with the Oxford Center for Religion and Public Life.