“Then [Jesus] said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25-26)
The resurrected Christ explained to His two disciples on the Road to Emmaus that His being delivered over to condemnation and crucifixion by “the chief priests and rulers” was something that had to happen. Not only did it have to happen to fulfill “all that the prophets had spoken,” but also to fulfill God’s plan of salvation for lost humanity.
To effect the sinner’s salvation the sinless Savior had to: (1) stand in the sinner’s stead before the bar (2) be convicted with the sinner’s guilty verdict, and (3) be condemned to die in the sinner’s place.
Christ could not have fulfilled the plan of salvation if He had been assassinated as part of a priestly conspiracy. He could not have fulfilled the plan of salvation if he had been thrown off a cliff in Nazareth (Luke 4:29), stoned by the Jews in Judea (John 10:31) or slain in a seditious tumult in Jerusalem. According to John Calvin, “To satisfy our ransom, it was necessary to select a mode of death in which he might deliver us, both by giving himself up to condemnations and undertaking our expiation.”
“I was guilty with nothing to say
And they were coming to take me away
When a voice from Heaven was heard, that said,
‘Let him go! Take me instead!’
Oh I should have been crucified.
I should have suffered and died.
I should have hung on the cross in disgrace,
But Jesus, God’s Son, took my place.” (Gordon Jensen)