DUNCAN/The cross reiterated
Please turn in your Bibles to Matthew 17:22-23. In this passage we come to the second great announcement of Jesus' impending suffering, death and resurrection. Let us think with the words of the inspired apostle on the truths set forth in this passage. First, we ought to remember Christ's humiliation for us. Second, we ought to reflect on His death, its meaning and significance. And third, we ought to strengthen our hope in His resurrection.
I. We Ought to Remember Christ’s Humiliation for Us
In verse 22 the Lord Jesus Christ predicts to His disciples that He will be delivered into the hands of men. Jesus says to them in verse 22, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men.” Jesus and His disciples had been moving through Galilee. They were moving through Galilee ministering privately. Jesus’ ministry in Galilee was done, and He now is focusing His emphasis on the disciples themselves. He is trying to prepare them not only for the events that are going to come about immediately, but also their future ministry. He is now pouring His life exclusively into their lives, teaching them and equipping them for the work which He has given to them. Christ has already explained to the disciples that it was necessary that He go to Jerusalem, suffer many things at the hands of the scribes and the chief priests, and be put to death and be raised on the third day. Now, He comes again with that same message but with an elaboration. Everything that Jesus does from this point on in His ministry was designed to enable them to endure the trial that they were going through.
In this passage, Jesus does stress the certainty of His death. Jesus also stresses the humiliation which will attend that death. Notice the phrase in verse 22, He will be “delivered into the hands of men.” What does that phrase mean? It means that He who is the glorious Son of God, He who is the Exalted One, will be handed over from one to another in the hands of wicked men as a toy, as a mere thing. He will be taken advantage of. He will be under their power and under their jurisdiction, to do with as they will. But you see, that is not the deepest part of the humiliation. In the final analysis, Jesus is delivered into the hands of His enemies by the heavenly Father. Remember the words of Romans 8:32: “He who spared not His own Son but delivered Him over freely for us all. How will He not with Him freely give us all things?” It is the heavenly Father, who for the sake of our salvation, delivers over His Son into the hands of men. You see, Matthew wants you to see not only the necessity of Jesus' suffering and the certainty of Jesus' suffering, but he wants you to see that that suffering was the very plan of God for your sake. It was not merely an accident or a tragedy. It was not merely an affront to justice put into place by the hands of wicked men. It was the Father's plan to redeem you from your sins.
II. We Ought to Reflect on His Death, Its Meaning and Significance
We see in verse 23 we see that the Son of Man will be killed. Jesus continues, “They will kill Him, and He will be raised on the third day.” The Son of Man would be murdered by men. He would be killed at the hands of His enemies. And yet, that is God's plan. The atoning death of the Son was necessary and certain. It was the plan of God. That death was designed to pay the penalty for our sins. That death was designed to constitute us covenantaly again as the people of God. That death was invested with the saving power communicated by the Holy Spirit in the work of sanctification so that one day you will be stood before the throne of God righteous in a righteousness not your own.
Do we realize that Jesus perfectly knew what He had been born into the world to do, and willingly chose it for you? Do you see the Savior's love in that? Do you realize that His knowledge all His life, that He was born to die for you, was like living a life experiencing the passion of the cross before it ever came? Can you imagine living your life knowing that your job was, at the age of 33, to die for all your people? And more than that, to lose the experience of the Father's presence on behalf of your people? He chose that for you. How much must your Savior love you?
III. We Ought to Strengthen Our Hope in His Resurrection
We also see in verse 23 that Jesus doesn't stop there. He goes on to speak of His resurrection; not only was the Son of Man delivered, not only was the Son of Man killed, but the Son of Man is resurrected, as pictured here in this Word of Christ to His disciples. The response of the disciples is a response of grieving friends who sense the bereavement they are about to undergo. They see this personal loss that they are going to have, and their love is clearly displayed for Christ. Being plunged into grief at the prospect of their own forthcoming personal bereavement, the disciples derive no comfort from Jesus' words that He will be raised on the third day. They did not know what was meant by being raised up and had only sorrow.
If we don't know what it means to be raised up, then there is nothing to turn our sorrow to joy. It is our business to know the resurrection. It is our business to believe and embrace the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and it is our business to know that we are raised up in Him. That is our hope. It's at the bedrock, the very foundation of our hope for future glory. So what is our response to the resurrection of Christ? It is to be able to face all the trials of this life in light of the hope of the resurrection. If you have not, I plead with you right now to pray and call upon the Lord to have mercy on you. Trust in Christ alone for your salvation. If you are a believer, remember that you are assured of all the benefits and blessing and the power of eternal life because of the humiliation of Christ for you, because of His death for you, and because you have been raised to newness of life in Him. Your resurrection is as good as done because you have been raised in newness of life in His resurrection and that resurrection is already been accomplished. May God enable us to believe.