Throughout the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), Jesus predicts His death multiple times. In this post, we will be looking at each prediction from different perspectives and connecting each one together.
(Note: I will not be focusing on the main connection which is that Jesus will be killed and raised to life three days later because that one is already pretty obvious.)
The First Prediction
From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him.
But when Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” He said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Jesus strictly warned them not to tell this to anyone. And He said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Connection: The first prediction concentrates on Jesus soon being rejected by the elders, chief priests, and teachers of the law. Peter is also mentioned in Matthew and Mark. At first, he is so shocked and later he starts to rebuke Jesus. But the Lord tells Peter that he (Peter) is only thinking of human concerns.
This a great lesson because people often only think about themselves. Instead, Jesus wants us to be thinking about more than ourselves and our Earthly concerns. We should be focused on following and obeying God's will. Even Jesus Himself had to give up His own will to obey God's plan when He went to be crucified. (Luke 22:42)
The Second Prediction
When they came together in Galilee, He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and on the third day He will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.
They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because He was teaching His disciples. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill Him, and after three days He will rise.” But they did not understand what He meant and were afraid to ask Him about it.
While everyone was marveling at all that Jesus did, He said to His disciples, “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” But they did not understand what this meant. It was hidden from them, so that they did not grasp it, and they were afraid to ask Him about it.
Connection: This next prediction focuses on the disciples. It portrays that the Twelve could not comprehend what the Lord was telling them, and they were afraid to ask Him any further questions. Jesus also explains that He will "be delivered into the hands of men".
The Third Prediction
Now Jesus was going up to Jerusalem. On the way, He took the Twelve aside and said to them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles to mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day He will be raised to life!”
They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again He took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to Him. “We are going up to Jerusalem,” He said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles, who will mock Him and spit on Him, flog Him and kill Him. Three days later He will rise.”
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him, insult Him and spit on Him; they will flog Him and kill Him. On the third day He will rise again.”
The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what He was talking about.
Connection: The third and final prediction occurs as Jesus and His disciples are traveling to Jerusalem. In this instance, the Lord further explains what will happen to Him by saying that the people will mock, flog, spit, insult, and eventually crucify Him. (Interestingly, the word flog means “to beat or whip (someone) severely”.)
(Also notice that Matthew 20:17-19 is the only passage that specifically mentions that Jesus will be crucified, while the others just generally say that He will be killed.)
In the Gospel of John, Jesus predicts His death, but He does it in an indirect way.
For example, John 12:8 says, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me.”
Also, in John 12:23, “Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.”
As you can see, Jesus is not directly saying that He will be crucified and raised to life, but He mentions that He will not always be on Earth and that the time of His death has come.
(There are more examples like this in John, but these are only a few of them.)
As we prepare to celebrate Christ's resurrection in a few weeks, I hope that this has given you a better understanding of the Lord's story.
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