v 31. He said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but three days later he will rise from the dead.”
Jesus’ death was no unexpected event, nor was His resurrection a kind of last-minute reversal of a human tragedy. Jesus walked through life with the shadow of the cross looming over Him, and He wanted His followers to be prepared for it.
The three key elements in what Jesus said are ‘Betrayed .. Killed .. Rise.’
And at this point in the story all of these must have seemed unreal – and perhaps unwelcome in prospect. In fact, it would appear that the disciples couldn’t take it all in; later events caught them by surprise in spite of Jesus’ clear references to them. The whole idea was a total mystery for them, as we read in v 32 ‘They didn’t understand what he was saying, however, and they were afraid to ask him what he meant. ‘
Little did they realise at this point that the events He was telling them about would be at the heart of the Christian message down the centuries. Jesus was not only preparing them for the traumatic events of Good Friday and Easter, He was beginning to teach them the core message of faith. This strange mystery that a Man, claiming to be God, would allow Himself to be nailed to a cross and die like a common criminal. Such preaching would be utterly incomprehensible to Jew and Gentile alike. So important was it however that the story of Jesus’ last week in Jerusalem before He died, and then the resurrection, that they take up a significantly large proportion of each of the four Gospels. So when you come to the Apostolic letters you are not surprised how large these things figure in their writing. In 1 Corinthians 1 Paul writes ‘ It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. ‘Then in the next chapter he reminds them about his preaching ‘ For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. ‘
Early in His ministry Jesus taught the disciples about these things and prepared them to proclaim this message of a crucified and risen Saviour.
It remains an essential element of the good news we are urged to proclaim.
He was a Man like no other in predicting his death and resurrection and the significance of these events.