The phrase "God has a plan" has become something of a cliché—with a negative connotation for many people. But in the circumstances leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus, the Gospel accounts provide confirmation that God does indeed have all things well in hand.
Far from being surprised or swept along, Jesus carefully orchestrated the events of the Passion Week (His last week on earth). This doesn't mean He manipulated those responsible for sending Him to the cross; rather, He brought out their seething hatred and true responses to His teaching.
According to Acts 2:23, the crucifixion progressed according God's prior intent, and the Passion Week allows us a glimpse at just how this happened. With His arrival during the Triumphal Entry, Jesus came as the promised Messiah at exactly the right moment in history (see Daniel 9). The common people welcomed Him with Messianic shouts of "Hossana," something completely intolerable to the Pharisees. However, the elite Sadducees enjoyed control of the Sanhedrin (the religious council), and even this type of welcome did not move them.
So, Jesus took His message to them. On Monday, He cleansed the Temple of moneychangers for the second time during His ministry and then staked His rightful claim to His Father's House. In fact, He wouldn't even permit merchandise to be carried through the Temple (Mark 11:16). The Sadducees did notice someone invading what they considered to be their turf.
Thanks to the superficial favor of the crowd, Jesus kept the leaders of Israel at bay for several days until the time appointed by God. And even then, those same leaders still feared the crowd's response enough to conduct a nighttime trial and to take Him to the Romans for death by crucifixion rather than by stoning, just as the Old Testament had shown.
The wickedness of humanity put Jesus on the cross, but none of the events took Him by surprise. He had warned His disciples when, where, and how His death would come because God had planned it before the earth had form.
Adapted from the lecture notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).