Usually, when someone uses the phrase “setting the stage”, they are referring to certain conditions being met or made right in order for something to happen or occur and this is the best way I can think of to explain the events of Christ and His crucifixion. That is, certain conditions had to happen for the prophecies of Christ to play out the way He predicted: “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21).
It was no secret that something was going to happen someplace, someday, and while it was not known when or even what exactly, it had been prophesied for some time that some major events were going to take place. We read about these events before Christ ever walked the Earth including in Exodus: “ For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when he seeth the blood upon the lintel, and on the two side posts, the LORD will pass over the door, and will not suffer the destroyer to come in unto your houses to smite you. And ye shall observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever” (Exodus 12:23-24).
When we read about the crucifixion in the Gospels, we know that this event was not just for that generation of people but for all people, past and present (then and now) which is what we read in Exodus about “an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.” That is, the deliverance of Passover was not just for them only but for their children all the generations to follow and the event that occurred on the Passover was the greatest work of redemption by our Savior and the stage was set in the Old Testament of the Bible in the same way that Christ Himself set the stage for what was to come in the Gospels: “ And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:” (Luke 22:14-15).
Although there were prophecies in the Old Testament as well as prophecies by Christ Himself, they were not taken literally. Christ told His disciples time and time again about what was to come but they did not believe Him. Christ had to scold Peter because he refused to believe what He was claiming and while Christ was setting the stage for what was to come, there were certain conditions and events that had to happen before His plan could come to fruition. For most of us, this would pose a problem but not from Christ who was, and still is, a master of circumstances as everything that happened during this period of time transpired a certain way for a particular reason and without these events, history as we know it would be completely different: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) and “That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.” Ecclesiastes 3:15).
Many of the things that occur may never make any sense to us and that’s okay, they do not have to as God has control of all things and all things happen for a reason. We as human beings have limited knowledge and can only see a portion of the picture but God sees all things. He has a big picture perspective and just because something does not seem to be happening does not mean that God is not hard at work. For the crucifixion to occur the way Christ intended for it and drew up, He needed all parts and pieces to be in place and for this to happen just right, we know that God had to know all things about each and every person whether it was Peter, Judas, and Pilate as each of us are free moral agents and we are free to do as we want but God knows our hearts and our minds including our weaknesses and He used them, then, like He uses them today to bring all things to light: “Because to every purpose there is time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him” (Ecclesiastes 8:6).