Matthew 16:21- From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. NKJV
Have you ever been to a gathering where you were asked, “If you found out that you were going to die next week, what would you do?” You try to think of the things that you haven’t done, things you keep putting off, places you haven’t visited yet, to figure out what that last week should look like. Well, no one asked Jesus this question, but one day He announced that He was on the brink of death and got busy!
This is totally contrary to how we think! Let’s keep it real! We really would be the ones making plans for the final week of life. Maybe we would want to gather all the family together and have one last party? Or maybe we would want to slip away with our spouse or immediate family to create those last few memories? In a movie I saw years ago, a woman found out she was dying and spent her final days finding a wife and mother to take her place. (I’m not that woman!)
When Jesus understood that He was at the end of His life, that death was imminent, Matthew said that He began to tell His disciples about what was getting ready to happen. Peter had just finished his declaration that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus had just commended Peter because of this revelation from the Father, and now begins the time of preparation.
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (bold and italics are my emphasis)Matthew 16:21 NKJV
Jesus tells His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem. He tells them that when He gets to Jerusalem He is going to suffer at the hands of the elders of Jerusalem, the chief priests, and the scribes. He elaborates on what that suffering will be when He tells them that He will be killed, and on the third day He will rise. What happens next is both shocking and revealing:
Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”Matthew 16: 22-23 NKJV
What is shocking is that Peter thought he was in a place to rebuke the Lord! Peter had just finished acknowledging that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God! So how do you form your lips to rebuke the Son of God? Peter told Jesus that nothing like that was going to happen to Him! No one was going to kill Him!
What’s revealing about the situation is that when Jesus gave His rebuke it was to Satan! Was he calling Peter, Satan? I think so! The Greek word “santanas” means adversary, and the Greek word for offense is “skandalon” which means trap. When you use these words together in this sentence, Jesus could easily be saying to Peter that he was His adversary, a trap for Him. In other words, you are trying to trap me like an adversary would! And then again, Jesus could easily have been rebuking Satan himself! Who also desired to trap Him. Maybe He was knocking out two birds with one stone!
As Jesus was preparing His disciples for His coming crucifixion He dropped them a hint:
Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.Matthew 16:24-25 NKJV
Jesus just finished telling His disciples that He is going to die, and then He brings up “taking up our cross”. He hasn’t yet revealed that He will die on the cross but isn’t it interesting that immediately following His declaration of suffering and dying that He mentions the cross? Maybe it’s just me!
Then Jesus goes to Galilee, and while they are there, He again tells of His future death and resurrection. Notice how in both tellings, Jesus tells of His death, and of His resurrection.
Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, “The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful.Matthew 17:22-23 NKJV
They missed it! They heard that He was going to be killed, but they missed that He was going to be raised from the dead. Because had they heard both parts of what He said, they would have been rejoicing, looking forward to the greatest miracle of His ministry. Instead, they were sorrowful! But fortunately, Peter had learned his lesson and made no comment.
Now Jesus, going up to Jerusalem, took the twelve disciples aside on the road and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death, and deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock and to scourge and to crucify. And the third day He will rise again.”Matthew 20:17-19 NKJV
Jesus has made it to Jerusalem with the twelve disciples. He pulls them aside and tells them again that when He gets to Jerusalem things are going to change for Him. He will be betrayed to the chief priests and the scribes. They will condemn Him to death. They will deliver Him to the Gentiles to mock, scourge, and crucify Him. And on the third day, He will arise!
This time He gives them more details of His impending death and resurrection! He tells them of the betrayal that is getting ready to happen. The Jews will turn Him over to the Gentiles. The Gentiles will kill Him without a cause. But that’s not what He wants them to focus on. He wants them to realize that the resurrection comes after the crucifixion!
There’s room to shout right here! Baptists love to hear this truth! They get really excited when you start talking about what happened at the crucifixion wasn’t the end of the story! Then they all start shouting about early Sunday morning!! Well, I am not ready to go there quite yet, but it’s hard not to!
For the disciples, this was a time of preparation. Jesus understood the impact that His physical death would have on His disciples. They truly loved and respected Him. They followed Him because they believed in Him. They saw Him do miracles that we have only read about! They saw nature bow to His will and the physical bodies of many respond to His words. So, they needed to be prepared for the upcoming events, that they might know and understand that this was not the end for Him or for them! It was so much more!
Have the situations of life felt like they were overwhelming you? Do you feel like some things have died that you weren’t ready to let die? Have you felt as if the darkness was crowding in and you can’t see your way out? Can I suggest to you that it isn’t over? Not if your trust is in God!
Jesus prepared His disciples for what was to come, and He has been preparing you for this day, also! He said:
These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”John 16:33 NKJV