Matthew records, “Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy Him” (Mt 12:14). It was a satanic impudence born of impertinent ignorance that caused men to believe they could destroy the Son of God. Possessing minds incapable of comprehending the Infinite and the Eternal, mortals aligned their pathetic and pitiful “strength” against the limitless power of Deity. These self-righteous Pharisees, in complicity with the Herodians (Mk 3:6), established as their primary goal the discovery of a means by which they might “destroy” our Lord Jesus Christ. The insensitivity of their hatred and frustration was no doubt fueled by His repeated reproofs of their pompous hypocrisy. It is reflected in the Greek word Matthew was inspired to use – apollumi. The prefix, apa carries the force of totality, to destroy utterly. Although not suggesting extinction, it pictures ruin and loss of well-being. The Lord used the same word to warn the unrepentant of eternal death, “I tell you, Nay: except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk 13:3,5) They felt they had accomplished their purpose when they persuaded the multitude to demand Barabbas release and destroy Jesus (Matt 27:20). The scribes and chief priests were similarly prompted by satanic impulses to seek the same vicious end for Him (Mark 11:18). But, as is typical of his attacks against God, Satan overplayed himself and stirred men to a hopeless task. How could they possible destroy Him?
He is Eternally Existent
He was before all things (Jn 1:1; Col 1:17) and outlasts all things (Heb 1:10-12; 13:8). As it is impossible to comprehend a moment of divine inactivity, so eternal ages have already passed whose beginning is so remote as to be incalculable. Whenever that beginning occurred, His presence irradiated the event. To the ages of the ages, He is The Same (Heb 1:11, 12). Yet, men dared to imagine that they could terminate His existence. Destroy Him?
He Created and Upholds All Things (Col 1:17)
Apart from Him nothing began, nor can exist. By the power of His word He created the elements of matter from nothing. His power binds the nucleus and constrains the whirling electrons of the atom. He originated and maintains. His boundless potential designed and energized the blazing stars inhabiting the remotest fringes of the universe and compounded the icy comets and rocky asteroids which play among the planets. His precision ensures the perfect placement of planetary orbits. The action and reaction of His gravitational forces stabilize and govern the complex gyrations of the galaxies. Destroy Him?
He Calmed Galilee With a Word
Seasoned fishermen feared in the face of the storm; He calmly slept (Mark 4:37-41). When awakened He had only to command peace, and the heaving sea immediately smoothed its surging billows into dead calm. He who had provided the energy to produce the storm initially, absorbed it totally and brought peace both to the stormy sea and His fearful followers. No natural power can resist Him. Could mere men destroy Him?
Demons Submitted to Him
They recognized Him (Matt 8:29). They trembled before Him (Lk 8:28). They released their victims at His bidding (Lk 9:42,43). They are required to seek His permission (Matt 8:32). They realize their ultimate judgment, but under His dominion they can do nothing to avoid it (Matt 8:29). Demons fearfully submitted to Him – and men thought they could destroy Him!
Illnesses Were Healed at His Word or Touch
In Him was life John 1:4) – life in its fullest significance. Thus, for death to occur in His presence was impossible, and illnesses, as impediments to a full enjoyment of life, were instantly dissipated at His command. However, His concerns encompassed spiritual necessities as well as physical needs. It was no more difficult for Him to bestow eternal life through the forgiveness of sins than it was to grant physical healing (Mk 2:9-12). He is the Source and Sustainer of all life, both physical and spiritual, but men thought they could destroy Him!
He Spoke Eternal Words (Mt 24:35)
His precepts are eternal; His declarations immutable; His doctrine infallible; His words were ageless, for He spoke them as The Eternal Word personified (John 1:1,2). He was introduced by John the Baptist, the Voice John 1:23), and the metaphor was appropriate. The word precedes the voice and its message continues after the voice falls silent. The voice is the means by which the word is spoken, but it is the word that conveys the message. Without the word, the voice produces only meaningless sounds. If they had attended to John’s words, they had evidently heard only the voice and failed to grasp the reality of the Word that motivated the voice. Their own words were intended to deceive and persuade (Mt 27:12-14, 20) and revealed the rebellion of their hearts. His words enlightened and blessed, revealing His complete submission as the perfect Servant. But most important, His words are conclusive and form the basis of judgment for all who reject Him an 12:48). Yet, in their stubborn determination, men sought to destroy Him!
He Wept Over Their Rejection of Him (19:41-44)
They failed to comprehend the tenderness of His heart; His tears meant nothing to them. Their calloused sensitivity robbed them of the opportunity to enjoy true peace, for they rejected the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6). They were determined to be rid of the only One who could truly sympathize with them, since He alone understood the grim details of their future. Their attempt to “destroy” Him would fail in its goal, and by refusing their only Hope of freedom and liberty, they would bring upon themselves disaster and misery. Yet they plotted to destroy Him!
He Possessed All Authority in Heaven and in Earth (Mt 28:18)
Many have striven for political and military conquest. None have subjugated the entire earth, much less the heavens. The assignment of His authority is comprehensive and irrevocable. Every event unfolds under His supreme control and command. By that authority He gives eternal life (Jn 17:2). To be put to death by men was to be made by the Father, Lord and Christ (Eph 1:22,23). No king issues an edict, no lord exercises an option that bypasses the ultimate authority of the King of all kings and Lord of all lords, whom men thought they could destroy!
Against Him They Had No Authority
In bold contrast to His limitless jurisdiction, the Lord Jesus used a grammar form incorporating a double negative to advise Pilate that he had no power at all, not the remotest hint of authority, to form a judgment against Him (John 19:10,11). If the Roman governor himself was divested of such power, how much less those who for envy had delivered the Lord to him! He had earlier demonstrated the impotence of infuriated men by His unimpeded departure from the mob of Nazareth, who had led Him out to cast Him over the brow of the hill (Luke 3:29,30) – they couldn’t dash Him on rocks. He reinforced the fact in Jerusalem’s temple courts when, having declared His identity as the eternal I AM, the stones taken up to cast at Him proved to be only dead weights in the helpless hands of His assailants as He calmly passed through their midst Jn 8:59)- they couldn’t stone Him. Even at His trial they had acknowledge by default that they had no authority Jn 19:6,7) – they couldn’t crucify Him. Although they failed to realize it, they were at His mercy even while He submitted to their cruelty. The pitiable paucity of their power was a dismal contrast to the dignified totality of His — and yet, they thought to destroy Him!
If Put to Death, He Would Rise Again (Matt 17:23)
His resurrection was an essential, a component of His predicted betrayal and death. It was no secret before His condemnation and was a vital piece of evidence in Peter’s pentecostal proof of His identity and exaltation (Acts 2:22,36). Their misapplied use of His temple analogy a, 2:19-21; Mt 26:61; 27:40) created the ideal circumstances for Him to show precisely what He meant. Their attempt to destroy Him simply proved they could not.
Their attempt to destroy Him would provide the means by which He would destroy the instigator of the attempt – Satan (Heb 2:14)
Their goal was to destroy Him utterly. His defeat of Satan rendered Satan an active influence, but with no hope of ultimate victory. Thus He makes the bondman free and the freed more than conquerors (Rom 8:37).As did David with Goliath, He used Satan’s own weapon to defeat him. His submission to death proved His supremacy over it. The use of death to “destroy” Him allowed Him to demonstrate by resurrection His conquest of death, and thus to annul its effectiveness. He became the Death of death – Him whom they wished, by death, to destroy!
As the Son of man He will sit on the Right Hand of Power, and come in the clouds of heaven (Matt 26:64)
In their mad compulsion to land Him on a cross they were blind to the fact that they were challenging the Lord who made the clouds of heaven His chariot and walked on the wings of the wind (Psa 104:3). They should also have remembered that the psalmist had prophesied the decisive defeat of His enemies from His privileged position at God’s right hand (Psa 110:5), and that Daniel had foreseen Him coming in the clouds of heaven (Dan 7:13). But they related none of this to Him; His claims were to them only blasphemy, and they thought to destroy Him.
He Would Restore that which He Had not Taken Away (Psa 69:4)
His death satisfied the Throne of Eternal Justice, thus making it possible for mankind, not to be returned to innocence, but to be justified, cleared of all guilt and credited with Divine righteousness (Rom 3:26; 4:22-25). He acquired an inheritance in the saints, who will forever publicly display the riches of His grace (Eph 2:7) and adoringly contribute to heaven’s worship of Himself (Rev 5:6-14). He made it possible for them not to enjoy physical life in a state of innocence, but eternal life now and in glory. His death brings a blessing far exceeding the evening visitations with the Lord that Adam and Eve enjoyed prior to their fall, the privilege of communion with a heavenly Father at all times. Those washed in His blood become not mere innocent creatures on earth, but cleansed saints destined to enjoy the perfections of His Person for ever.
By “destroying Him they attempted the unthinkable, made possible the incomprehensible and extended His riches by a magnitude that is eternally immeasurable.
Steadfast and bright, the effulgence of light
His glories outreach the uttermost height.
His loveliness shines like stars from on high,
His virtues outrange the measureless sky.
Lauded by angels and worshipped by all,
Cherubim, Seraphim at His feet fall.
Millions and myriads honor His Name,
Changeless and ageless, He’s ever the same.