On the Day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter declared to the crowds in Jerusalem, “[Jesus of Nazareth], being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain” (Acts 2:22-23).

What did Peter mean by saying this? One Greek dictionary translates his words this way: “Jesus was handed over to enemies, given over to death according to the predetermined plan of God."

What a strange, incomprehensible act by a supposedly loving heavenly Father. God deliberately handed over His Son to death! It was as if He purposely led Jesus into the hands of His worst enemies and said, “Here's My Son—do with Him what you will.” Then He stood by, doing nothing to stop His Son's wicked enemies from killing Him.

What kind of predetermined plan was this? Why would God hand over His own beloved Son to death? Peter gives us the answer in the very next verse: “Because it was not possible that he should be [held] of it (death)” (Acts 2:24).

God knew it was impossible for Jesus to be held permanently in death's grip. So there was no risk for Him in handing His Son over to death because He knew Jesus would come out of the grave a glorious victor over death—raised up by the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit!

It is important, however, to understand the times in which Peter spoke these words. Up until Calvary, death was a very fearful thing to humankind. It was still the devil's domain, under his rule and lordship, and therefore an enemy to be feared.

God knew this power of death had to be broken and that is why He handed over His Son to death.

“That through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14). God wanted to remove death's sting, to break Satan's power over death once and for all, so He allowed Jesus to go down into death in order to swallow it up.