I’ve had a question that has really troubled me. Why is it that God would want us to be upset & regret Jesus dying on the Cross for our sins when his sacrifice was apart of God’s eternal plan in the first place? In other words, how could we feel “cut to the heart” and sorrowful for something Jesus was suppose to do? I am confused because if the Pharisees or other Jews were sorrowful or felt guilty before crucifying Jesus, then he never would have been sacrificed & been able to save so many others’ lives.
I believe you may be somewhat misinterpreting the emotion that God desires us to have about the death of Jesus on the cross. As Christians, we rejoice at the final result of Jesus’ death on the cross, which is our salvation–the forgiveness of our sins. We do not regret that Jesus died on the cross. What we regret is the REASON he had to die on the cross, which is our sins. If you read in Acts 2, those who heard Peter’s sermon were cut to the heart, not necessarily that Jesus was their savior but that they were responsible for his death. Peter said, “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.” As you know, the people were cut to the heart over this. They were cut, not that Jesus is Christ (savior), nor because he is Lord. They were cut because they were responsible for his death. The traditional interpretation of this scripture is that all of us who have sinned are indirectly responsible for the death of Jesus. If we had not sinned, he would not have had to die on the cross. The people were cut over their sin and the consequences of their sin, which was the death by torture of the Son of God.
Let me put this in human terms. What if you did something really terrible with great consequences. For example, what if you were to rob a store at gun point. Let us extend the analogy. Imagine your mother or your sister voluntarily taking the “rap” for your crime and spending years in prison, while you were allowed to go free. How would you feel about their sacrifice? You would be very grateful. You would be blown away by the sacrifice and extremely encouraged by the love they have expressed. On the other hand, you would probably feel really guilty that your own foolish action was the reason that they were languishing in jail. Your reaction would be joy mixed with sadness. That is what God wants us to feel about Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross.
As for the Pharisees, most of them were not sorrowful or regretful because they were clueless about what was going on–that God was using them as instruments to fulfill his will in bringing about the salvation of men through Jesus Christ. I am confident, and the book of Acts agrees (Acts 6:7), that some of the priests, scribes and Pharisees who had Jesus condemned were later converted. I am sure that after they came to believe in Jesus they regretted what they had done, on the one hand, and were thankful that God caused it to happen on the other. Probably their emotions were rather jumbled!
I hope this helps.