Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that the Lord Jesus, "for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Hebrews 12:2.
Acknowledge and confess the sin of wanting your life to be free of the suffering that comes from knowing and believing in Christ.
Please read Luke 9:18-22 - The Son of Man must suffer and be killed.
Ask God the Holy Spirit to help you in your understanding of his Word.
We pick up today on yesterday's exchange between Jesus and the Apostles, through Peter, when Jesus asked them who they believed him to be. Through Jesus' question, they had been brought, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, to a realization that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah. It is a startling revelation, one which would have been accompanied by a great deal of excitement. The thought that the One who had been sought by generations of Jews is now standing in their midst, must have astounded them. How would Jesus respond? With excitement, with joy? 'I have been with these men for two years, and it is great that they now see who I truly am. I have been waiting for this day for so long. Now we can really begin the task of building my church.'
Jesus does respond to Peter's declaration that he is the Christ of God, but probably not in the way any of them imagined. He tells them, and in a straightforward way, that they are not to breathe a word of this to anyone. What a shock that must have been to the Twelve. They probably hadn't thought much about how Jesus would react to their response, but if they had, would any of them have expected this? The Messiah was to come and establish his Kingdom. Jesus had been preaching the Kingdom for two years and had been showing the power of the Kingdom in his miracles. They had just returned from their time away in pairs, preaching the Kingdom of God and healing. Now it is out in the open, at least among the thirteen of them, that Jesus is the King of the Kingdom. Surely now was the time to press on, the time to let everyone know what they now see. The King is here; let's start building the Kingdom.
Why does Jesus, in the strongest possible way, shut down this exciting news of who he is? Because this Kingdom would be from another world in comparison with what generations of Jews thought it would be. This Kingdom's formation would not result in the establishment of a grand and glorious earthly empire, involving phenomenal territorial expansionism. The nation of Israel was not be transformed into a global power, with all the material wealth that generation and dominance bring. The Kingdom of this Messiah would be of an epic, but an entirely different, order. And the foundation stone that would be laid for it would be of a wholly unique order. It is because of this that Jesus is so strong in his warning that they must not speak a word to anyone.
The charge, though, is not left hanging in the wind without an explanation. Mark tells us that "he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and be killed and after three days be raised again," Mark 8:31. So it wasn't merely that Jesus made a statement and moved on. He spent time spelling out to them the implications of Peter's answer. All that lies ahead of Jesus is necessary if he is to fulfil the task set before him. These men have to know that. There can be no half-hearted participation. This is a matter of life and death, and it is going to end in his death. He doesn't seek to shield them from that reality; he tells them simply and clearly what is going to happen. Why would I think that he would shield them? Because it's what most people do. They don't want the truth to come, so they do what they can to soften the blow by trying to make it sound not as bad as it is. Why? Because they are afraid of driving people away. Jesus knew none of that approach. His life was not founded on keeping people close to him. For Jesus, it was all about fulfilling the task the Father had sent him to do. So, he said what he needed to say, and he did so to those who needed to hear it, when they needed to hear it, and he left them to think and make up their minds.
The delivering up.
Remember, when you read these words, that Jesus teaches the Apostles about what is going to happen to himself. He is the Son of Man who is going to be delivered into the hands of men. Who is doing the delivering? Well, we know it is the Father. Peter, the same Peter who had just stated that Jesus is the Christ of God, would later declare on the day of Pentecost, "this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men," Acts 2:23. What will this delivering involve? Suffering. Suffering will be necessary; it will be unavoidable that the Messiah will suffer many things. What the 'many things' are is left undefined. The statement is made, the integrity of it is unquestionable, but it is veiled. We, of course, read these words through the lens of Calvary, all the events leading up to and during the Cross. But even with our post-event knowledge, we cannot plumb the depths of Jesus' understanding of what lay ahead of him as he uttered these words. It wasn't just that he was aware of what Isaiah and David had written, Isaiah 53, and Psalm 22, that he had a full comprehension of what lay ahead of him. He had known it for all eternity since the council of redemption when the plan of the Triune God was agreed. The fact that he was able to cope mentally with it, amid the constant demands of people on his life, speaks to who Jesus is.
Jesus' statement about the rejection of the elders and the chief priests and scribes, the Sanhedrin, the ruling Jewish Council must have been earth-shattering news to the Twelve. The 'elders' were the older experienced men of the nation, who having served in lower courts as judges had been promoted to the highest court in the land. The 'chief priests' were members of Caiaphas' family; Caiaphas was the high priest. They were a rich and powerful 'clan' within Judaism. The 'scribes' were the law experts. These were the men who gave the interpretation of the Old Testament and the rabbinical traditions that had built up around it, and covered it like barnacles on a ship on the seabed so that its truth had become obscured. The Apostles might well have thought that these, the leading men in Judaism, would have been enveloped within the vision and plans of the King for his Kingdom. Yes, they would play a key role in the establishment of the Kingdom, but not in the way any Jew could have imagined. It's not that they wouldn't be given the opportunity to hear the Kingdom's truth, they would, but then they would choose to reject it. And note, their actions would not arise out of either ignorance or ambivalence. No, their actions, deliberate and intentional, came from hearts that had heard and considered the truth but resolutely refused to accept it. The resulting decision would be collective and formal.
Death is not our friend; it is our enemy. Man was not created to die; death is a direct consequence of sin entering the world; see Genesis 2:17 and Genesis 3:19. Jesus not only tells the Twelve that he is going to die, but also the means of his death – he is going to be killed. 'Killed' is such a stark and shocking word. The implication is clear; the Sanhedrin will be a principal player in the wholly unjust deed. That, after all, is what killing is – an unjust act without due proper legal process.
Jesus can't soften the reality of what he has just said, but he does speak of the hope that will follow it. There will be a resurrection, and it will take place on the third day. He doesn't specify what will happen after that, but now they know that it will not end in death.
This response of Jesus to Peter's statement is powerful because of its clarity and brevity. Obviously, this is a summary of what Jesus taught, but the summary tells us everything about what the 'students' took away from the lesson. There is no room for misinterpretation or misunderstanding. Each of the Apostles now knows the keys facts of what will happen to the Messiah, Jesus. But in life, we can 'know' through being taught, and we can 'know' through experience. It would be great if we could just know through what we are taught, regrettably though that is the exception rather than the rule. These men were not exempt from that common human malady. Luke doesn't tell us about how they reacted, but Matthew tells us that Peter took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him, saying, "Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you." To which Jesus responded, "'Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.'" Matthew 16:22,23. Now there is a statement to sober the heart. The point about the resurrection had obviously not got through to them. But let us not be quick to judge. I know how long it has taken me to learn some things that were clearly stated to me in my youth. You can speak to your own experience of learning.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 96C - Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ"
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 65 - What is forbidden in the fifth commandment?
Answer - The fifth commandment forbids us to neglect or to do anything against the honour and duty which belongs to everyone in their various positions and relationships in life.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God that we do not have a Saviour who walked either ignorantly or accidentally to his death. Thank God the Messiah knew and carried with him all his life the reality that awaited him, and chose not to avoid or run from it but to face it for our eternal good and his glory.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley