His Suffering Brings Salvation

On His way to Jerusalem, Jesus makes three predictions of His coming suffering, death, and resurrection. The first of those is found in Matthew 16:21, while Jesus is in Caesarea Philippi. The second prediction is in Matthew 17:22-23, while Jesus and His disciples are in Galilee on the way to Jerusalem. And the third prediction is a few chapters later in Matthew 20:17-19 as Jesus and His disciples draw close to Jerusalem.

Each of these predictions begins with Jesus promising that suffering will come. He says, “the Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men” (Matthew 17:22).

This word “delivered” has the sense of being handed over or entrusted. That can have a good meaning, such as someone delivering us a gift and handing it over to us. But there is a darker sense of this word that sometimes has the sense of being betrayed. There are hints here that someone will be instrumental in handing Jesus over to the authorities. There are perhaps even hints toward the eventual role that Judas will serve as a disciple betraying Jesus. Regardless, the deliverance Jesus references here is not a pleasant word but a painful word. 

Not only that, but Jesus says He will be condemned to die. In Matthew 20, Jesus offers the most information of any of the predictions, describing in great detail the suffering yet to come. He says, “the chief priests and the teachers of the law…will condemn him to death” (Matthew 20:18). While everyone already knew these religious authorities didn’t like Jesus, it may have been surprising to hear how far Jesus says they would go to be rid of Him. 

Even more, Jesus says these religious leaders will hand Jesus “over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified” (Matthew 20:19). “The Gentiles” literally means the nations, but here refers to the occupying power of the Romans. This would have been beyond comprehension for the disciples. They had recently rightly identified Jesus as the Messiah and Son of the Living God. Now He describes a way of being the Messiah that seems totally at odds with their expectations. How could it be that the Messiah would save humanity when He would end up suffering and dying…at the hands of the Gentiles!!

How could this be? What reason could there be within this prediction of Jesus? Why must Jesus suffer in such a confusing way? 

Why was it? It was because Jesus had come to bring salvation to the world. He was sent to bring life in the midst of the death caused by sin and evil. The only way He could bring victory over sin and death was to enter into its darkness and come out the other side of that tunnel. He would be mocked and His physical body would be beaten and crucified. As Isaiah 53 speaks of the Messiah, “by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). 

Jesus brought hope, but that hope could only come after the darkness tried to snuff it out. 

Praise God for what we read about Jesus in John 1:4-5:

“In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4-5)

Unseeing in Sleep

Pray that you will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:40)

Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:46b)

the disciples
unseeing and tired
eyes sagging, bodies sore, sleep surges up,
engulfs vigilance at the vital hour.

Jesus’ question, ‘Why are you sleeping?’,
sounds strange to sleepwalkers,
whose ears fail to hear the rhythmic feet
marching to the Mount of Olives
with malicious intent.

they have no answer for such questions.
it is the silence of sleepyheads
who do not think straight,
lost in limbo between dreamworlds
and real worlds.

Lord, touch us who do not see or hear,
who fail to understand temptation
in the grey light of slumberland.
Lord, awaken us from sleep
that we may rise and pray
in the dark of this new day.

This is the first in a group of seven original poems composed for Holy Week.

Trouble (discussion questions)

Chosen Words Series Gfx_4x3 TitleHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “Trouble,” from this past weekend at Eastbrook Church. This continues the series, “Chosen Words,” where we will journey through John 13-17 over the next number of weeks.

Discussion Questions:

  1. When did you face deep troubles in your life? What happened and how did you deal with?
  2. We continue our series, “Chosen Words,” by studying John 13:18-14:4, where Jesus faces into deep troubles. Before you read those verses aloud, take a moment to ask God to speak to you as you read His word.
  3. The first section of this passage, verses 18-30, focuses largely on Jesus’ expectation of betrayal at the hands of Juda. Judas is mentioned five times in John 13 (vss 2, 26, 27, 29 30). What do you notice about Judas from these verses?
  4. Jesus clearly knows that someone will betray Him (vs 21), but it also appears that this is part of God’s plan (vss 18-19). How could these both possibly be true?
  5. In the second section of this passage, verses 31-38, how would you summarize Jesus’ description of what He will face next? What do you think this means?
  6. In verses 34 and 35, Jesus offers “a new command.” Although this may be familiar, what do you think it means practically to fulfill this command? Why do you think there is a direct connection between this command and identification of Jesus’ disciples?
  7. Jesus confronts Simon Peter’s bold declaration with a hard truth about his upcoming failure. Why do you think Jesus said this to Peter?
  8. When do you think it is the loving thing to do to confront someone with a hard truth?
  9. The third section is found in 14:1-4. Here, Jesus balances words about His departure (13:31-33) with the reassuring work of God. What does Jesus promise to His followers?
  10. How do Jesus’ words here help your perspective on the challenges of your own life or the global events unfolding around us?
  11. What is one specific thing that God is speaking to you about life with Him through this study? How will that shape your life in the next week? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray for one another. If you are studying on your own, write it down and share it with someone.

 [Next week we will study John 14:1-31; 15:26-16:15. Read it ahead of time to prepare. Join the 40-day journey associated with this series by visiting http://www.eastbrook.org/chosenwords.%5D


Chosen Words Series Gfx_ThumbWhat do betrayal, failure, and peace have to do with one another? In one way or another, they all relate to trouble.

We continued our series,”Chosen Words,” this past weekend at Eastbrook Church looking at the trouble of Jesus, His disciples, and in our lives. I took us into John 13:18-14:4, exploring Jesus’ encounter with Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s failure. This highlights our own need to be watchful of our temptation to betray Jesus or deny Jesus when trouble comes down upon us.

You can view a video of the message and the accompanying outline below. You can listen to the message via our audio podcast here. You can join in with the “Chosen Words” devotional online.

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