As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the Twelve aside by themselves on the road. He told them, “Look, we are going up to Jerusalem. The Human One will be handed over to the chief priests and legal experts. They will condemn him to death. They will hand him over to the Gentiles to be ridiculed, tortured, and crucified. But he will be raised on the third day” (Matthew 20:187-19, Common English Bible).
This is the third time Jesus predicts his death and resurrection in Matthew’s gospel. I have thought some about this particular passage. I found it puzzling that Jesus found it necessary to tell the disciples three times that he would be arrested, tried and executed and then on the third day he would rise again.
I have reached a couple of conclusions. First, as New Testament era Jews, the disciples were continually focused on the world of the present. They anticipated Jesus to be a Messiah of their present day, not a Messiah of a world to come. Even when they spoke of, “When you come into your kingdom,” their thinking was for a kingdom of their day, not a kingdom they wouldn’t be seeing for years to come.
The second reason was, these guys needed reminders. Jesus first started talking about this several chapters back and Peter chose to chastise Jesus. For his trouble he, at least on the surface, seemed to have Jesus call him Satan. Additionally, because the disciples were so focused on the present, Jesus had to say, in essence, now is the time. The first two times were more about, “the day is coming…” Jesus’ words now were about, “We are headed into Jerusalem and this is what is going to happen….”
It seems to me that we are a lot like the disciples. We too are focused on the present rather than the life that is to come. Sure, a good bit of who we are and what we do should be focused on the here and now but our focus should be on making the Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. What we tend to be more focused on is having a good time now because that is what life is all about. Or, at least that is what we think.
It’s not about us. We need the reminder too. We don’t need the reminder that Jesus was about to suffer and die and would rise on the third day. The reminder we need is that Jesus not only did suffer and die, he suffered and died for you and I. Further he did rise on the third day and because he lives we can have life too. But, we should always remember, that isn’t because of us, because it isn’t about us. We are offered the gift of grace because Jesus did suffer, die and rose again. Thanks be to God.
Where do you find your reminders that Jesus died and rose again for you and me?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Thanksgiving,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved.