Gamaliel was a highly respected and greatly loved first-century scholar. He was a Pharisee. A member of the Sanhedrin council, the Jewish Supreme Court. According to Barclay, he was one of the few given the title of “Rabban.” When Gamaliel spoke, his fellow Pharisees listened.
When Peter and John appeared before the Council for the second time for preaching Jesus, they found an unexpected ally in Gamaliel. While it seems the Council was determined to severely punish the apostles or even kill them, this Rabbi offered a different solution
After citing the failures of two past insurrectionists, Thedus and Judas of Galilee, Gamaliel advised, “I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God” (Ax. 5:38-39).
So, here we are almost 2,000 years later, and God’s plan has withstood the test of time. In spite of the efforts of infidels, atheists and agnostics to ridicule it, thwart it and overthrow it, the message of Christ and the cross continues to be spread around the world.
Consider these four important aspects of God’s plan.
God’s Plan Declared His Purpose.
God’s purpose was centered in Jesus. The Bible teaches that God’s plan for you and me was in His mind “before the foundation of the world” (Eph.1:4). He determined that the Messiah, his Son, would come to earth to be our Savior.
God’s plan and purpose were prophesied by the Old Testament prophets. Preached by John the forerunner. And acknowledged by Jesus Himself.
God’s Plan Expressed His Passion.
God has a passion for people. For a world that was corrupted and confused. For lost souls.
Paul penned that “God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still in our sins.”
Jesus’ death on the cross showed how far God was willing to go to save fallen humanity. All the way to the cross. A road that was filled with sorrow. Shame. And suffering. A road that left Jesus beaten. Bruised. And bloodied.
God was so passionate about this redemptive plan, that He allowed His only begotten Son to “become sin for us.” To take our place. To die in our stead.
God’s Plan Demonstrated His power.
When Friday’s agony was finally coming to a close, Jesus said, “It is finished.” And everyone thought He was finished. Done for. Defeated. Dead. The High Priest thought it was over. The Roman soldiers did. And so, did the Disciples who ran for cover.
The cross, however, did not terminate God’s plan, but actually germinated it through Jesus’ resurrection from the grave. Paul affirmed that Jesus Christ was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.”
A few years ago Newsweek, a magazine not known as a proponent of Christianity wrote this about the resurrection of Jesus:
“The risen Christ is the center of the Christian faith. The mystery without which there would be no church, no hope of eternal life, no living Christ to encounter today. No other historical figure has ever made the claim that He was raised from the dead. It was this appearance of the resurrected Christ that lit the flame of the Christian faith. It wasn’t the morality of the Sermon on the Mount, which enabled Christianity to conquer Roman paganism, but it was the belief that Jesus was alive. He’d been raised from the dead.”
God’s Plan is Personal
Bradley Dugger, one of the Shepherds where I preached several years ago in Columbia, Tennessee, was fond of saying, “When you read John 3:16, insert your name instead of God so loved the world.’” For instance, I would say…
“ For God so loved (Ken Weliever) that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Try it. Insert your name. It’s a reminder that God’s plan is personal. That He loves you. And wants you to be saved.
In spite of this world’s wickedness and its march toward further destructiveness, remember God has a plan. It still works. And people who fight against it will ultimately fail.
God’s plan. Believe it. Embrace it. Obey it.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman