So What’s the Good News?
Matthew 17:22-23; Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:43-45
“The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hand of his enemies. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” – Matthew 17:22-23 NLT
For the second time, Jesus reveals some very disheartening and confusing news to His disciples. He gets them alone and tells them that He is going to be betrayed and killed, but then He will be raised from the dead on the third day. Mark tells us that the disciples didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, but they were afraid to ask Him to explain Himself. Probably because they didn’t really want to know. Jesus had talked about this before, and they didn’t like it any better now than they had then. Luke tells us that the significance of Jesus’ statement was hidden from them. It would not make any sense until after Jesus had actually died and been raised from the dead. The significance of it all would never really hit them until they received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. But that comes later in the story.
At this point, they were simply confused and saddened. They didn’t like what they were hearing. They didn’t want to think about it. It didn’t fit into their understanding of how things were supposed to work out. They were still thinking that Jesus was going to set up His kingdom on earth and that they would be ruling alongside Him as His faithful assistants. All this talk of betrayal and death was not what they wanted to hear. They didn’t even hear the part about Jesus being raised from the dead. Their attention turned off at the word “killed.” The reality was that God’s plan for Jesus didn’t mesh with their plan for Jesus. Their view of the Kingdom didn’t coincide with God’s view of the Kingdom. They were thinking temporal and earthly. Jesus was thinking eternal and spiritual. He came to set them free from the rule and tyranny of sin. They simply wanted Him to set them free from the rule and tyranny of Rome. God’s plan was so much bigger, grander, and comprehensive. But they couldn’t see it. They were blind to it. They were stuck in temporal mode. And the truth is, we can find ourselves in the exact same spot. Even though we live on the other side of the resurrection. We know it happened and we know why it had to happen. And yet we can still find ourselves struggling with God’s plan. It may be that we don’t particularly like this process called sanctification. We struggle with having to grow in Christ-likeness. It takes dedication, effort, obedience, trust, faith, and a total dependence on the mercy and grace of God. It is a slow and sometimes difficult process. It tends to reveal our weaknesses and exposes our sins. Which none of us like to see. Submitting to the Spirit’s authority in our lives is difficult for all of us. We have to daily die to our will and submit to His. We have to let go of our agendas and willingly follow His. Sometimes it seems that God requires of us things more than is fair. His plan for us seems uncomfortable and unattractive. We don’t like all the talk about taking up our crosses and dying to self. But that is part of the plan. It is God’s will. We have to learn to trust Him that He knows what is best for us. The disciples were learning the same thing. The idea of the death of Jesus was distasteful to them. They didn’t want to think about it. But it was essential if God’s redemptive plan was going to be fulfilled. Without His death, there would be no payment for sin and therefore, no forgiveness for sin. Without His death there would be no need for a resurrection, and without His resurrection, we would have no hope. We would still be in our sins and separated from God for eternity. God’s plan is not always easy to understand. It’s sometimes even harder to submit to. But we have to trust that He knows what He is going. He is not done yet. But He is always faithful and He is always right. No matter how it may appear to us.
Father, thank You for Your perfect plan. Forgive me for the many times I doubt it, fight it, reject it, or attempt to replace it with my own. You have always proven Yourself faithful and Your plan perfect. Help me trust You more. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men