7706 - Death Foretold

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At this point in our study of Luke’s gospel, Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem for his final Passover. Of course the disciples did not know this. In Luke 18:31-34 Jesus shares with the twelve about what is going to unfold in Jerusalem.

31 Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, "We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.

32 He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him.

33 On the third day he will rise again."

34 The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

Here Jesus was preparing his apostles for those days in Jerusalem when the very faith of these men would be tested. Jesus had previously talked to some of these men about some of these events on three different occasions. This passage is the most open revelation of these coming events of any previous conversation.

Jesus refers to the prophetic writings, which told of this sacrifice in Jerusalem, and he told them that all those prophesies would be fulfilled.

Notice that Jesus is very specific at this time. He told them that the Jews would hand him over to the Gentiles. Then he described that the Gentiles would mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. But Jesus didn’t stop there. He continued on with the good news that on the third day he would rise again.

The minds of the twelve were in turmoil since they were expecting the glorious kingdom to be established. They were not alone. In Luke 19 (11) we are told that the people thought the kingdom was going to appear at once.

Glance ahead a few days to the triumphal entry into Jerusalem and you see the people crying “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! (Mark 11:9)”. They are expecting the kingdom.

And we get insight into the expectation of the apostles in Acts (1:6) just before his ascension they asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?”

With these kinds of expectations brewing in their inner beings it is not difficult to grasp the idea that the disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what Jesus was talking about.

For three years these men had lived & traveled with Jesus. They had heard his preaching and teaching; yet, at this late date they had not understood that the earthly mission of Jesus was to give himself as the atoning sacrifice for all mankind there in Jerusalem. Even though Jesus had talked with some of them about the rejection he faced in Jerusalem; about the ridicule and suffering through which he must pass, before being nailed to a cross to die a horrible death. Add to that the many Old Testament passages, which were going to be fulfilled in every detail. Perhaps they had read those prophesies many times without being aware of what they talked about. They did not understand the scope of the mission of Jesus.

Luke 24 (44-45) tells us that after the resurrection Jesus appeared to the disciples and he reminded them of these things which he had shared with them, and of the Psalms & Prophets which had to be fulfilled.

Scripture tells us that after some conversation Jesus opened their minds so they could understand about his suffering and resurrection.

John’s gospel (12:16) tells us that after Jesus was glorified they realized that these things had been written about him and that they had been done to him.

From these passages we can begin to comprehend the turmoil that must have been within the disciples, and the deep uncertainty they would wrestle with until the resurrection and ascension, and the opening of their minds to put all the pieces together.

Even with all these developments Jesus continued to prepare these disciples for positions of leadership in the first century Church, which would be born at Pentecost.