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“Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
‘Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.'” (Psalm 2:1–3)
For some time, Jewish leaders had been plotting and scheming to end Jesus’ life. Their animosity had been building since the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry. In John 5, for instance, Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath and the Jews present were outraged (John 5:1–17). When Jesus proceeded to equate himself with God, these they became even more determined to kill Him (18). During Holy Week, the opposition to Jesus came to a head.
Wednesday may well have been the day when the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews, met in order to decide what to do with Jesus. However, their opposition to God and His anointed, or messiah, was nothing new. The psalmist had spoken of the raging of the nations against “the Lord and his Anointed” (Psalm 2:2).
Just as the nations in the Old Testament had set themselves against king David and his royal line—the line God had chosen to rule His people—so now this opposition was reaching its climax in the hostility toward Jesus, the King from David’s line. In the next forty-eight hours, Jesus would be betrayed, falsely tried, and executed. Yet, as Psalm 2 reminds us, the schemes of sinful men cannot ultimately prevail. God laughs at the nations, for His plans cannot be altered and His kingship cannot be thwarted. In fact, God used the ultimate expression of opposition—the cross—as the means through which His saving plan was fulfilled.
As we think about those who rejected Christ, we should not forget that, apart from God’s grace, we too were enemies of God (Romans 5:10). Our voices would have cried out among the scoffers, for we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). It is only by God’s grace that we have been saved (Ephesians 2:8).
Gratefully, in the same psalm in which God speaks of those who oppose Him and His Messiah, He offers terms of peace:
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:10–12)
This is good news for sinners like us, and it is the message we take to a lost and dying world around us. We must urge unbelievers to “Kiss the Son” (10), that is, to repent and put their trust in Christ. Although His judgment is sure, we can say with the psalmist, “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him” (12).
Whether work, money, reputation, pleasure, or relationships, we have all been guilty of seeking refuge in fleeting things. We need to be reminded of Peter’s words when Jesus asked him if he wanted to leave along with the crowds: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). There is nowhere else to truly find refuge but in the kind arms of Christ.
As we meditate on this text, let us remember the beauty of what God has done in uniting us to Christ. Though we were once His enemies, He is now our refuge, our Redeemer. Regardless of the world’s opposition, it is the Lord’s purpose that will stand.
(This article created with the assistance of Eric Roberts.)