So incredulous was it to the disciples that one of them would betray Jesus that Matthew and Mark who were the first to articulate their gospels emphasized it of first importance even over His institution of the Lord’s Supper in their description of the events that took place at His last Passover; cf. 1Co 11:23. After affirming that indeed the one who would deliver Him up would be so close as to dip his hand with Him in the bowl they were then eating, what does Jesus say that not only affirms His own submission to the will of God, but also God’s condescension or accommodation to the free will of man? See Mat 26:24, and consider God’s creation of beings in His own image with the free will to potentially oppose His own will: Did He, having all power, forbid it so they could not oppose His will? No, for then they wouldn’t really have free will. Did He then, knowing the perdition to which their free will in opposition to Him would lead, simply surrender them to the deceitfulness of their own sinful choices? No, for His love would not allow it. Rather, as a demonstration of His love, did He not condescend to the free will of His creation by in fact honoring their choices, but at the same time do all that He could to woo them back to the way of life, and at great sacrifice to Himself provide a means of redemption from their errant ways? Cf. Jer 31:2-3,20, Lam 3:31-33, Hos 2:14,16,19-20, 11:2-4,8, Joh 14:6. How does this understanding argue against any concept that God is an impersonal force that perhaps created the world but then just left it to itself to manage its own affairs?
How very different is this nature of the true God and His kingdom that respects the free will of others and especially those with lesser power, from the god of this age and the kingdoms of the world that use coercion to simply force their will upon others? How many people did Jesus have to kill or imprison to establish His kingdom? How much coercive force after the manner of the world does He use to advance it? Is a “Christian” society that forces its will upon others any different in this regard? Consider the Pope’s Holy Roman Empire that burned “heretics” like Huss and Wycliffe, or Calvin’s Geneva, or even the judicial system of Christian America that has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Consider also that Satan, the ruler of the kingdoms of the world and perhaps the greatest of all created beings, appears as an angel of light and no doubt considers himself “good” and his coercive ways superior to God’s—such is the deceitful nature of sin; cf. Isa 5:20. Does God have no limits to how far He will allow His creation to exercise its free will in opposition to His own? Cf. Job 38:8-11, Isa 57:20-21, Jer 5:22, 2Pe 2:4-6. While God has such limits, what is clear about His much greater accommodation to the free will of others than that made by the kingdoms of the world and their ruler?
How does God’s condescension to the free will of man help us to understand the same condescension parents must have to the free will of their children as they grow up and often make choices they don’t agree with? Although parents can restrict the freedom of their children’s choices while they are young, does that continue to work as they grow older? When older children make sinful choices that are at odds with the better judgment of their parents, shall the parents then simply surrender their errant child to the deceitfulness of their sinful choices? Or following God’s own example, shall they not respect their choices, but at the same time do all that they can in love to woo them back to the way of life, even at great sacrifice to themselves?
In what way do Jesus’ words in Mat 26:24 communicate both the sovereignty of God that assures us that He will always accomplish His will, and man’s free will in the midst of that sovereignty for which God will hold him accountable? Cf. Luk 22:22, Act 2:23, 4:27-28, 13:27-28, Est 4:14. How does this help us to understand the nature of God’s sovereignty that magnifies His greatness, not because He is able to accomplish His will by forcing it upon His creation so that those who are created in His image actually don’t have the free will to resist, but because He is able to accomplish His will even though those whom He has created as free agents can choose to resist His will? How much greater is a God who gives men and angels the free will to make their own moral choices, including resisting His will to be their own god, and yet is still able to accomplish His will, than a God who gets His way by merely pulling the strings of puppets He has made to do as He pleases?
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The Atonement of Christ's Blood: Understanding How the Blood of Christ Saves and Reconciles us to God
- What is the relationship between Jesus’ sacrifice and our redemption, forgiveness and receiving an inheritance per the terms of the covenant / will that was effected by His death?
- From what, and to what, are we saved? Is it Jesus’ death alone that saves us? What part does His resurrection have in our salvation?
- Does the justice of God demand the satisfaction of blood before He will forgive, similar to what pagans throughout history have believed?
- What was the purpose of the Old Testament sacrifices?
- Does blood alone atone for sin?
- How does Christ’s death render powerless the devil?
- To whom was Christ’s life given as a ransom? From what are we ransomed?
- Why did Jesus not only die, but suffer and die? If all that was necessary was His shed blood, why didn’t God sovereignly ordain a more merciful death for His own dear Son?
- What is the relationship between a will or testament, and a covenant? What was willed to Jesus as an inheritance from His Father, and what was willed to us through the new testament in His blood?