God Brought It to Pass
For example, Isaiah 53:6, 10 says, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. . . . It was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief." The Lord crushed him. God was at work in all the circumstances that brought Jesus to the cross. Behind the spitting and flogging and mocking and piercing is the invisible hand and plan of God.

And I say that carefully and with trembling. This truth is too big and too weighty and too shocking to be glib about or to be cocky about. I choose to say that the invisible hand and plan of God are behind these most spectacular sins in all the universe—more grievous and more spectacular than the Fall of Satan or any other sins. The reason I use these very words is because the Bible says it in these very words.

The Hand and Plan of God
In Acts 4:27-28 we have the clearest, most explicit statement about God's hand and plan behind the horrific crucifixion of his Son. "Truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place." Those are the two words I am using: the hand of God and the plan of God.

It is a strange way of speaking—to say that God's hand and plan have predestined something to happen. One does not ordinarily think of God's "hand" predestining. How does a hand predestine? Here's what I think it means: The hand of God ordinarily stands for God's exerted power—not power in the abstract, but earthly, effective exertions of power. The point of combining it with "plan" is to say that it is not just a theoretical plan; it is a plan that will be executed by God's own hand.

This explains Isaiah 53:10: "It was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief." Or more literally, with the King James Version, "It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief." The Lord bruised him. Behind Herod and Pilate and the Gentiles and the people of Israel was Jesus' own Father who loved him with an infinite love.

The Gospel: God at Work in Death
Why should this matter to you? It should matter because if God were not the main Actor in the death of Christ, then the death of Christ could not save us from our sins, and we would perish in hell forever (Matt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:9). The reason the death of Christ is the heart of the gospel—the heart of the good news—is that God was doing it. Romans 5:8: "God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." If you separate God's activity from the death of Jesus, you lose the gospel. This was God's doing. It is the highest and deepest point of his love for sinners. His love for you.

Romans 8:3: "Sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh." God condemned sin in Jesus' flesh with our condemnation. So we are free.

Galatians 3:13: "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us." God cursed Jesus with the curse that belonged on us. So we are free.

2 Corinthians 5:21: "For our sake he [God] made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." God imputed our sin to him, and now we go free in God's righteousness.

Isaiah 53:5: "He was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities." God wounded him. God crushed him. For you and me. And we go free.

The Cross of Christ as the Work and Love of God
If you embrace the biblical truth (and I pray you will) that God ordains spectacular sins for the global glory of his Son, without God in any way becoming unholy or unrighteous or sinful in that act, then you will not shrink back from the cross of Christ as a work of God. You will not be among the number of those who call the most loving act that ever was "divine child abuse." You will come to the cross and fall on your face. And you will say: This is no mere human conspiracy. This is the work of God and the love of God. You will receive it as his highest gift. And you will be saved. And Christ will be glorified. And I will not have written in vain. 


Used with permission. Adapted from the audio recording and the booklet  History's Most Spectacular Sin originally published as "Judas Iscariot, the Suicide of Satan, and the Salvation of the World," in Spectacular Sins, copyright © 2008 by Desiring God Foundation.

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Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringgod.org