Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection the Second Time
Translated by Allan Liang
“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). All of us who are sons and daughters of God know deeply: we were saved because of our faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came to earth to save lost sinners, died for our sins on the cross, resurrected from the dead three days later and ascended into heaven - this is the gospel message. But the mysteries of this gospel cannot be understood and accepted by man’s own wisdom. Even the Israelites who looked to God’s redemption and the disciples of Jesus did not conceive of such a Christ who was God incarnate. What defied their understanding more greatly was that Jesus would accomplish the work of salvation through his suffering and sacrificial death, as well as rise from the dead, ascend to heaven and sit on the right hand of the Father, where he shall come to judge the living and the dead. Today we read a passage of Scripture where Jesus foretells for the second time, to his disciples, the mysteries of the gospel of his death and resurrection three days later. Unlike the first time, Jesus did not mention his killers, “the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law” (Mark 8:31). Rather he said, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him.” By saying this, Jesus did not acquit the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, but included more comprehensively all the people who would harm him. Pilate, the one who issued the death sentence is certainly accountable, but Jesus said to him, “the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin” (John 19:11). But we also know that, as Pilate could find no guilt in Jesus, he wanted to have Jesus released after flogging him, but the Israelites, the chief priests and the religious leaders strongly disagreed, and “with loud shouts they insistently demanded he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed” (Luke 23:23). So we can say it this way, the co-conspirators of Jesus’ death were all the Israelites present. This way, the Gospel of John is proven right when it speaks of the natural blindness of man to the true light. “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:10-11) What does this imply? This implies that Jesus bore the sins of man, the essence of which was their desire to slay (deny) the true God, considering themselves to be “gods”. Man does not know how terrifyingly evil his desire to be “god” is in the sight of God, and naturally does not know how fearful it is to fall under the wholly righteous judgment of God. But what is most confounding is that Jesus’ death at the hands of sinners accomplished the awe-striking work of salvation so that all sinners who believe in him may be saved. For, “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6). Dear brothers and sisters, how blessed are we! Our faith in the gospel which is the power of God, comes not from human wisdom, nor can our understanding and acceptance of it come from human intellect. The disciples who followed Jesus at the time, “did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.” The first time Jesus declared his death and resurrection, Peter attempted to dissuade him, but was rebuked as doing the work of Satan. After learning from this negative example, they lacked even the courage to ask Jesus for guidance. Instead, they began to bicker about who was the greatest among them, and quarreled endlessly. How sad is this. Please in your prayers meditate on why Jesus repeatedly foretold his death and resurrection. Why could the disciples not understand what Jesus meant, and where did their obstacle lie? And how did the disciples finally come to believe? Was it only because of the appearance of the resurrected Jesus before them (Luke 24:44-49)? Please recall and offer up in thanks how the truth of the cross entered your heart. And how have the mysteries of the gospel transformed your life as a Christian? If there are still places that are unclear, how can I rely on God for strength?