“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. Acts 2:22-24
The absolute best place to learn and study the Biblical view of God’s sovereignty is at the cross of Jesus Christ. And perhaps there is no better section of Scripture for this study than Acts 2:22-24. Peter declares that Jesus was plainly and transparently attested by God to the people and yet they willingly chose to deliver him up to be killed. They were knowing, willing, responsible murderers of Jesus Christ. Here is human responsibility. God’s sovereignty did not cause them to do something against their will.
And yet, Peter says, Jesus’ crucifixion was according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God! So God was sovereignly directing what men were willingly doing–shockingly, the death of Jesus Christ. Here is a view of sovereignty that can increase our sobriety at human responsibility and our wonder at God’s omnipotence at the same time. God ordered the death of his own Son, in order to save people who had contributed to his crucifixion. What does this reveal about God’s sovereignty?
- God is not a despot, for no despot sacrifices himself to save his enemies.
- God is not a tyrant, for no tyrant seeks to rescue rebels.
- God sovereignty is holy, because he brought about the justification of his holiness through Jesus’ death on the cross.
- God sovereignty is gracious, because he ordered a plan whereby sinners could be forgiven through Jesus’ death on the cross.
This is an absolute sovereignty that is beyond our comprehension, but as the puritan said, not beyond our love. Here is sovereignty that is at the same time mysterious and marvelous, incomprehensible and delightful. It is this view of sovereignty that must strengthen us as we face every personal trial in our own lives. God knows the pain of suffering, because he experienced suffering in the person of God the Son. He does not bring suffering capriciously, but for the final good and salvation of his people. No person has ever suffered more and been less deserving of it than God the Son, and no being deserves God’s goodness less than those who have defied their creator. And yet, he bore the wrath, and we know the grace.
So, here, at the cross, we can see our responsibility and what our sin merits and we can see God’s Sovereignty and what his goodness accomplished. Here at the cross we stand on the highest peak to see the Sovereignty of God in its mightiest display of power, when God the Son dies at the hands of sinful men and according to the Sovereign purpose of God.
This week, as Good Friday approaches, let us delight in the sovereignty of God revealed at the cross of Christ.