If I knew then, what I know now.
How often have you said something like that?! I know I have. Looking back on past mistakes and unfortunate choices I’ve made I think sometimes, if I knew how all of that would turn out or if I had had the insight I have now, then I would have done those things differently. Hindsight is always 20/20.
Which is what makes the events of this Maundy Thursday so outrageous and hard to understand. On this day Jesus prepared the Passover Meal for His disciples. He washed the feet of Judas Iscariot who would betray Him in just a few hours. Jesus laughed with and blessed Peter who would deny he ever even knew Jesus the next night. Jesus broke bread with and had a wonderful and special meal with his closest friends who would in just a few hours run away in his time of deepest need. Later, the next day the crowds that cheered for him with palm branches and hosannas would cry out with murderous rage, crucify Him, crucify Him. That next day a man he never met (as far as we know) a terrorist named Barabbas would be set free by those some crowds and Jesus would hang in his place. On that Friday, an innocent man hanging on a criminal’s cross, we have to wonder if Jesus knew how it would all eventually play out if He too would have wished to do things differently as well.
If He did, think that, and if all of this was ultimately a surprise to Him and if He looked back with regret hanging on the cross knowing what He knew now, wondering if He would make the same choices—that would make complete sense to us, and we would totally be thinking the same thing. We would look back at all of the betrayal, the hurt caused to us, and ultimately our own suffering and death and think, this is absolutely not worth it. Those people I loved and invested in are not worth me being nailed to a cross. Man, oh man, if I knew that this was how it would play there is no way I would sacrifice like this for those lousy, no-good, two-faced liars. Forget these people! That would completely be our reaction and we wouldn’t blame Jesus if He said the same thing.
But what makes this story so outrageous is that Jesus’ did not need the gift of 20/20 hindsight because Jesus already knew where His story would lead him, what would happen, how he would be betrayed, how He would suffer and be crucified, Jesus knew all of it. Jesus knew exactly where this road to would take Him.
We hear these words from Jesus during His ministry on three separate occasions:
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9:22)
Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Matt 17:22b)
And as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way, he said to them,“See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.” (Matt 20:17-19)
In the Upper room with His disciples during the Passover, Jesus said: “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” (Matt 26:31-32)
Then in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest, Jesus prayed: ““My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (26:39b)
After His resurrection, the angels said to the disciples: ““Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words (Luke 24:5b-8)
Only one from many, many prophecies in the Old Testament foretelling the exact means and situation of Jesus’ death, like from Psalm 22: “They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.”
From Jesus’ own words before it all happened here and recorded elsewhere in Scripture, and the message of the angels afterwards and the prophets before we see that Jesus knew exactly what He was doing, how it all would play, and how horrible it would be and even with all that knowledge choose to walk that road to the cross. Imagine that, just imagine, every day of we’ll just say, Jesus’ three ministry (thinking of his whole life before his ministry, like Jesus’ knowing all this as a child is just too much to bear) Jesus knew how everything and everyone would play out. Peter who He personally called and stayed up late nights teaching would deny his very existence. Judas whom Jesus loved so deeply and personally called to walk with Him would betray Him with a kiss. Each of his disciples, his friends, that he spent nearly every moment of three years with would turn tail and run away as cowards at the first sign of trouble. Hearing of a man named Barabbas, a known terrorist whom Jesus knew would be released instead of him. Each and every soul in that crowd that sung hosana on Sunday Jesus could see in their faces the terrible cry of “crucify him,” while they sang. Jesus knew all of that. Jesus already had perfect 20/20 hindsight and yet he didn’t change a thing but walked purposefully to the cross for each and every one of those people who would hurt him.
Because this story was set in motion from eternity, from the very words of God to his creation, Adam and Eve in paradise, foretelling Jesus’ death and its meaning.
“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:15).
Jesus knew his actions not only would have cosmic effect on the entire story of creation, of darkness and light, of evil and God; but this whole story of redemption would be for all of creation and each and every soul that has ever lived on this mortal plane. Because Jesus is God from eternity, that means that Jesus already knew your name and had your name on His lips when he climbed that hill to Calvary. When Jesus cried out during his torture, forgive them for they know not what they do, it was for your sin and your name He cried. When he died and opened Heaven to be received in faith, it was with your name in His heart.
Jesus knew how it would all play out and still lived and died exactly as it needed to be done, not changing a single thing, because He knew it all already and gladly walked that road for you.
He already knew…