1Now the festival of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was near. 2The chief priests and the scribes were looking for a way to put Jesus to death, for they were afraid of the people.
3Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was one of the twelve; 4he went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers of the temple police about how he might betray him to them. 5They were greatly pleased and agreed to give him money. 6So he consented and began to look for an opportunity to betray him to them when no crowd was present.
7Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it." 9They asked him, "Where do you want us to make preparations for it?" 10"Listen," he said to them, "when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him into the house he enters 11and say to the owner of the house, 'The teacher asks you, "Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?"' 12He will show you a large room upstairs, already furnished. Make preparations for us there." 13So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
Reading this passage made me think of parallel lines. The first line is the narrative of the chief priests and scribes scheming to find a way to kill Jesus (vv.1-2). The second (parallel) line is the narrative of Judas Iscariot looking for an opening to betray Jesus for money (vv.3-6). And the third (parallel) line is Jesus sending off Peter and John to prepare a place for the Passover meal wherein Jesus will offer himself as the Passover lamb (vv.7-13).
In Euclidean geometry parallel lines do not intersect, but in non-Euclidean geometry, like elliptic geometry, initial parallel lines "curve toward" each other and intersect. Think of the three narrative lines configured in a sort of elliptic geometry: the three lines will intersect at the point of Jesus' crucifixion: the point where the chief priests and scribes see Jesus killed, the point where Judas sees the result of his betrayal, the point where Jesus' final act as the Passover Lamb is displayed.
The death of Jesus -- this point -- can be described in these three ways without contradiction: Jesus is killed, Jesus is betrayed, and Jesus is sacrificed. Once again what Joseph said to his brothers in Egypt is true here: what you meant for evil, God meant for good. What the scribes, chief priests, and Judas meant for evil, God meant for good. God offered his Son and the Son offered himself as a sacrifice, the true Passover Lamb, so that we can be reconciled to the Holy God and begin a new kind of life in Christ through Christ's death and resurrection.
During this Advent season with the fitting focus on Christmas and the meaning of Christmas (the Incarnation of the Son of God!), we can nevertheless look up from the crib of the baby Jesus and see the star that points to his birth. And what do you see as you look at that star?
You see a cross-shaped star. A star announcing not only the birth of the New King in Bethlehem and also whispering the sacrifice of this New King on Calvary.
Let's pray: O Lord Jesus, we marvel at your coming, we marvel at your love. We marvel at how even the sinful intentions of your enemies were used to bring about greater good. The great good of salvation. We thank you, Jesus, for taking on flesh, becoming one of us, becoming a King, and in due time, dying for us, dying as the true, redeeming King, so that we would experience the triumph of your victory over death, sin, and the devil. During this Advent season, we marvel. Marveling might be the only proper response during this season. We marvel at you, Lord. In Your Name, Amen.