Disaster and Redemption
It is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish. John 11:51
In my recovery, I’ve felt tremendous guilt over the things I’ve done to hurt myself and others. I’ve found peace in knowing I’m forgiven by God and in working at living differently every day. There were those times though, early on in my recovery, when I wanted to sooth my conscience by believing that my addiction was something that God had orchestrated.
As I reached out to other addicts, I could see God making something of my mess, redeeming it for his purpose. It was quite tempting to take those moments to mean that I wasn’t responsible for my addiction at all. In this mindset, my addiction – and all my self-destructive behavior – was something that God made me do, so he could use me to help others. If God is in control, then I’m not responsible!
Today’s passage provides some insight into this kind of thinking. In the story, the religious leaders of the day gathered to discuss what to do about Jesus. The high priest, Caiaphas, prophesied that it would be best for the people if Jesus were just killed. This, ironically, was God’s plan too, but God worked out a completely different ending than Caiaphas envisioned. It would be tempting, I think, for Caiaphas to look back on his own life and see himself as an agent of God. I facilitated your plan God! The gospel authors though, make it clear that Caiaphas didn’t follow Jesus. God may have redeemed Caiaphas’ actions for his own purpose, but the man was still a villain.
The lesson for us, is that God can redeem our disaster for his purposes. He will miraculously make something wonderful out of something terrible. That doesn’t mean that we’re not responsible for our destructive behavior, and it doesn’t mean that we will ultimately be on God’s side. That is up to us. He can work out his will with or without us. We cannot stop God’s ultimate plan, but we can miss out on the life he intends for us. Though Caiaphas’ actions were redeemed by God, Caiaphas himself, was not.
Today’s story is both a promise and a warning. God can make something beautiful of our mess. That doesn’t mean we should continue making messes for him to clean up. It’s only in abandoning our way and following his, that we get to be part of God’s beautiful redemption.