Sunday Reflection: Strange Plans

I remember when I read The Passover Plot as a teenager. The book, by Hugh Schonfield, was a retelling of Passion story from the point of view of a non-believer. Basically, Schonfield believed that Jesus had personally arranged his ministry so that certain prophecies would be seen to have been fulfilled by his actions. Schonfield went so far as to suggest that Jesus had deliberately arranged to fake his own death in order to fulfill Psalm 16:10, rendered in the New American Bible as "For you will not abandon me to Sheol, nor let your faithful servant see the pit," and in the King James version as, "For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." To Schonfield, Jesus intended to outwit the crucifiers via drugs administered to him on the cross (!) by his friends, who would resuscitate him later.

While this was silly (and blasphemous to some), Schonfield made interesting points. Did -- as many of us assumed -- neat stuff just happen to Jesus? Or was there a human intelligence working behind the scenes in some capacity to move events in a certain direction?

This week, we see a clear indication that Jesus sometimes acted in concert with others who were not part of the Twelve:
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him,
“Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?”
He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him.
Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”’ Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.”
The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them;
and they prepared the Passover."

A strange tale, filled with pre-arranged signals and code words, all with the intent of getting Jesus into the city and to the meal that future generations would know as the Last Supper.

We know Jesus as the one from whose lips sprang the word of God, and whom God exalted after the humiliation of the Cross. But we need not think of Jesus as one who let others determine his destiny. As today's reading shows, He seems to have shaped his "fate" to whatever degree he could, then leaving the remainder to the Father.

May we, too, not surrender our lives to blind chance. May we not allow others to shape our lives, but honor God by using the entirety of our being -- soul, heart, will and strength -- to bring about God's will, as far as our poor efforts will carry us. May we also be pleased, when our efforts are complete, to allow God to work through the efforts of others.
Image -- "Cross Eye" -- an entry for the "Religious Shapes 5" contest put on by, a website devoted to the creative use of photo-enhancing computer tools.