Matthew 17:22-23 – Jesus: A Man on A Mission from God

Posted: January 28, 2016 in Gospel of Matthew

Matthew 17:22-23
Jesus Predicts His Death A Second Time

There are those people that we meet that seem to have it all together. No matter what, they seem to have direction and purpose to their lives and they are undeterred in pursuing their goals. For many of us, it seems that life is a bunch of stuff that we have to deal with and we bounce around like pinballs in a pinball machine. There are those though who seem from an early age, they have an idea of who they want to be and how they are going to get there. My dad is an example. If there had been a senior superlative for Most Likely To Be A Preacher, he would have won it. His nickname in high school was Preacher. He knew from a early age that he was going to be a preacher. He lived it out too. He became a full-time preacher when he was 19 years old. When I look back at 19, I was still a kid having a hard time just getting through college and my own life problems much less leading a flock of believers. There are those too that become Christ followers when they are in single digits in age like my friend Luke Brower. Others of us were full grown adults before we came to our senses and accepted Christ as our Savior.

Jesus was in a sense like my dad and Luke. He knew what His purpose in life was. Jesus was like the Blue Brothers when they said, “We are on a mission from God!” In his humanness, he knew from the time He had his first cogent thought in His human body what His purpose in life was. No matter the trails his human life took, He knew what He was born to do. In His divinity, He knew from the beginning of time what was to happen when He came to earth to live among us. Here in this passage, we see Him express this singleness of purpose to his disciples in Matthew 17:22-23:

 
22 When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. 23 They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

 
What can we learn from this passage that we can apply to our lives today? I think the first thing that we can learn is that there was a singleness of purpose to Jesus’ earthly existence and it was not some random accident that He ended up on the cross. The second thing that we must understand is that the resurrection is as important as the cross.

Jesus predicted his death here in this passage for a second time. He had done it one previous time in Matthew 16, a chapter earlier from where we stand right now. Jesus knew from before the beginning of time that this three years was necessary. Every part of it was necessary. It was necessary for Him to come to earth as a babe born of a virgin. He had to come to live among us and to live the sinless life that He lived. He knew that He had to disciple these men to become the genesis of the church that lives on through the centuries and carries the gospel to each and every succeeding generation of humanity until it is His time to return and wrap things up at the end of time. He knew that He had to go to the cross and suffer as predicted throughout the Old Testament. He knew that He had to complete the Old Testament sacrificial system. He knew that God had instituted a plan for periodically reconciling man to Himself through the heartfelt sacrifices of lambs for sin by His chosen people. He know that He was to be the completion of this system because He was the perfect sacrifice. The animal sacrifices were imperfect and had to be repeated because they were created things just as we men are created things. He knew that since He was God in the flesh that His sacrifice on the cross was the completion of the system. He was perfect. He was not created so He could be perfect. He is God in the flesh. He knew that through Him we could know God and He knew that He had to walk among us. He knew that everything that He did pointed to the cross. It was necessary. It was the plan from the time Adam and Eve committed the first sin. The crosss stands at the cross roads of the Bible. Everything before it in the Bible points to it. Everything in the Bible after it is the result of it. Jesus had to die on the cross as the innocent perfect sacrifice for us. He took God’s wrath against all sin of all time on the cross and He knew that was what He was born to do. Nothing deterred Him from accomplishing what He came to earth to do. On the cross, He cries out “It is finished.” It is not that He is just commenting on His physical death but He is also signifying to the Father that their unison task is complete. He has done what He came to do. The goal of giving us a way to be reconciled to the Father in a permanent way. We have a way to shed the consequences of our sin nature through His sacrificial death on the cross. It is finished. Goal accomplished. Singleness of purpose. Undeterred. The necessary and inevitable purpose has been accomplished.

Jesus also predicts His resurrection here. Let us not forgot that though we need the cross, the resurrection is what we need too. The resurrection is as important as the death on the cross. We sometimes get hung up on the theology of the cross. And we must really understand that theology of what He did on the cross but let us not get so caught up in what Jesus’ death on the cross means that we forget the joy of the resurrection. The disciples could not hear past Jesus saying He was going to die that they could not hear or could not believe what He said about the resurrection. The cross is necessary for the resurrection. The resurrection does not happen without the cross. The cross is necessary but the resurrection is the reward. Many people who refuse to accept Christ as their Savior forget about the resurrection of their lives. They think that life is over if they accept the cross. What they do not realize is that a new life begins after the cross. A new and different life. Yes, the life we had before is over and it is sometimes painful to go through the growing up we do after the cross, but the life we live after the cross is a different, changed life. It is not the old life. In the same way, when we do not see past the theology of the cross, we do not see Jesus come out the other side in resurrected form. His resurrection is what gives us hope of a new life for ourselves through Him. He conquered death just as through Him we conquer our sin selves. His death on the cross is necessary to reconcile us to God for God sees Jesus’ death on the cross as the payment that we owe for our sins. Jesus is the lamb that is slain at His altar for the sins that we have committed that make us unworthy in God’s sight. But the story is not over. It is just the beginning. We are new beings with a new life through the resurrection. We as Christ followers sometimes beat ourselves up for the sinners that we know that we are and that make the cross absolutely necessary. But sometimes we forget, and like the disciples not hearing, about the resurrection and what it means to us. It means everything. It is not over at the cross. We have new life through Jesus Christ. We are resurrected beings living new lives. The old life killed at the cross and left in the grave and the new life begins as we leave the tomb as resurrected beings. The joy of our salvation comes in the resurrection. Jesus proves that He is the conqueror of death and sin with His own resurrection. In that we know that we have new life. In His resurrection we know that He is God and not just a dead prophet we believe in. He gives us assurance that there is eternal life in heaven. He gives us assurance that this life is not all there is. We not only live new lives after we meet Him but we have assurance that death is not the end and that we will be with Him in eternity. Hear about the resurrection. Have joy in the resurrection. The cross is necessary but the resurrection is the reward and it is the assurance.

Amen and Amen.

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