(Prepared for a sermon from Acts 16:6-11 on changes in plans.)
Have you ever planned a trip, only to have everything go wrong? You start out to go to a specific destination but, you take a wrong turn and end up somewhere you had no intention of going. Or perhaps you missed a plane connection and were forced to change your route. Or you got sick and couldn’t complete your journey. Or you found out after you started traveling that the reason for your trip no longer existed, so you decided to do something else.
My wife and I once experienced a very unexpected twist to a trip we planned. We decided to celebrate our first anniversary by camping on the beach. This was in the days before you could look everything up on the Internet. We opened up our road atlas and picked one of the campgrounds listed on the coast of the Olympic Peninsula. Much to our disgust, when we arrived, we found this so-called campground was nothing more than a paved parking lot for RVs. There were no trees or shade of any kind. There was nowhere to pitch our tent.
We felt we had no choice but to try some of the other campgrounds listed on the map. This was Labor Day weekend. By now it was late in the afternoon. Every camp was already full. Long after dark we finally found a spot to put up our tent. But it wasn’t on the beach. Instead it was in the middle of the rain forest. Needless to say, our vacation turned out very, very differently than we had intended.
Now that change in plans happened to turn out well. In fact, it became one of our fondest memories. But not all changes in plans have happy endings. Have you ever stopped to think what would have happened if something changed Jesus’ plans? Right after the incident where Peter identified Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, Jesus began to tell His disciples about His plans for the future. Matthew 16, verse 21 says, “From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” (NIV)
The disciples didn’t understand. They even tried to prevent Jesus from carrying out His plan. But, fortunately for us, Jesus would not let anything distract Him or deter Him from going ahead with His plan. Luke tells us, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51 NIV) Other translations say that He “determined to go” (NASB) or that He “steadfastly set His face to go” (NKJ).
It wasn’t easy for Jesus to carry out His intentions. He had to overcome temptations to change the plan. He even pleaded with His heavenly Father to let Him do something else. He could have called on the help of 10,000 angels to avoid the cross. Yet, through it all, even though He wanted to do something else, Jesus stuck to the plan. He didn’t let anything shake His resolve. And, because Jesus stuck to the plan, He was able to buy eternal salvation for you and me.
Today we’re going to remember and celebrate Jesus’ resolve. The bread we eat calls to mind His body which died on the cross. The juice reminds us of His blood – the blood which bought our redemption.
Today as we eat and drink, let’s not only thank Jesus for His resolve, which took Him to the cross, let’s also strengthen our own resolve to stick with the plan God has laid out for us. The Apostle Paul writes, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation – if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel…” (Colossians 1:21-23 NIV)