From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.
(Matthew 16:21 ESV)
With about six months left to live Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, suffer, and be killed. Such news would have certainly confused the disciples. They had given up their lives to follow Jesus for 30 months, the whole time expecting Him to go to Jerusalem, overthrow the Roman occupation, and restore Israel to glory. But that was never God’s plan.
Peter, and probably all twelve, had figured out that Jesus was the Christ – the long awaited Messiah sent by God [Matthew 16:13-16]. It was only after that that Jesus reveals today’s awful news. Jesus had to establish who He was before the disciples could understand anything else about Him.
Such is still the case today. It is impossible to understand God’s plan to save mankind from hell, which is what the Bible is all about, without first understanding who Jesus is. This is why the question “Who is Jesus?” is categorically the most important question in a person’s life [Matthew 16:13-15]. Without knowing and understanding the correct answer to that question, a person can never arrive at any other spiritual truth.
It is only when someone realizes that Jesus was God on earth and that He came from heaven to save mankind from the abhorrent penalty of their sins that all the rest of what God tells us in the Bible can make any sense.
That plan consisted of sending His perfect son to earth. We know the son as Jesus. The son would suffer many things from the leaders of the Jewish community: the elders, the chief priests, and scribes ultimately resulting in His being killed.
But notice that this plan ends in hope. On the third day the son will be raised. The gates of hell had no chance of holding Jesus [Matthew 16:18].
All this had been prophetically foretold by God hundreds of years before [Isaiah 50:6, 53:12; Zechariah 12:10; Psalm 22, 16:10 et. al]. The Jews, especially the religious leaders, should have known this. But they didn’t. They didn’t know their Bibles and were, therefore, living in spiritual ignorance.
The same thing exists today. People want God to solve their earthly problems and they lose faith in Him or even deny Him if He doesn’t. What they don’t understand – because they don’t read and study their Bibles – is that they have a much more dire problem (sin) that has the power to separate them from God for all eternity.
Notice that these things had to (must) happen. Having His son nailed to a cross was always part of God’s plan. The Greek word for “killed” here does not mean justifiably executed, as in a death penalty case. It means murder. God’s plan included having His son unjustifiably murdered.
These things had to happen because of God’s love for us. That love motivated Him to unilaterally solve our biggest problem by sending His perfect, innocent, son into the world to pay the penalty for our sins by being nailed to a cross. The proof of that payment was His resurrection.
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