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)

His Resurrection Brings Hope

This past weekend at Eastbrook, we continued our Advent journey and our preaching series entitled “‘Tis the Reason.” In this fourth week of the series we explore two texts in which Jesus predicts His coming suffering, death, and resurrection in Jerusalem: Matthew 17:22-23 and 20:17-19. Along with Matthew 16:21, these predictions shape the direction in which Jesus will bring salvation as Messiah. They also point us through the darkness of sin, evil, and grief to a hope that is found in Jesus the light of the world.

This message is part of the seventh part of our longer series on Matthew, which includes “Family Tree,” “Power in Preparation,” “Becoming Real,” “The Messiah’s Mission,” “Stories of the Kingdom,” and “Who Do You Say I Am?”

You can find the message video and outline below. You can also view the entire series here. Join us for weekend worship in-person or remotely via Eastbrook at Home.


“The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.” (Matthew 17:22-23)

Jesus’ Three Predictions

First prediction (Matthew 16:21) – in Caesarea Philippi

Second prediction (Matthew 17:22-23) – in Galilee on the way to Jerusalem

Third prediction (Matthew 20:17-19) – nearing Jerusalem

The Promise of Suffering (Matthew 17:22-23; 20:18-19)

Handed over – entrusted – betrayed; hints at the role of Judas

Condemned to death by the chief priests and teachers of the law

Mocked, flogged, and crucified by the Gentiles

Hope in Jesus, the light not been overcome by the darkness

Grappling with Grief and Hope (Matthew 17:23)

The disciples’ grief at Jesus’ prediction

Losing sight of hope

Bringing our grief to Jesus

The Pathway of Hope (Matthew 17:23; 20:19)

On the third day, raised to life

Love arrives in Jesus

Hope rises through Jesus

Faith grasps ahold of Jesus


Dig Deeper:

This week dig deeper in one or more of the following ways:

  • Memorize Matthew 17:22-23 or 20:18-19
  • Although we are preparing for Christmas, remember the real reason for this season by reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, and resurrection in Matthew 26:47-28:15.
  • Write a prayer of thanksgiving for Jesus’ death and resurrection, perhaps weaving into it the themes of Advent and Christmas.
  • Pray for opportunities to share about Jesus the Messiah with those in your relational network. When God gives you opportunity, speak of Jesus to them.

Why Can We Glory in Our Sufferings?

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5)

Paul begins our fifth chapter of Romans by savoring “the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:2) we have through justification by faith in Jesus Christ. He savors the peace with God we have in Christ and the grace of God in which we now stand in Jesus Christ. There is so much to enjoy and savor given us by God as a gift.

But Paul carries on from there to “glory in our sufferings” (5:3). This may seem shocking. While it is understandable to glory in God’s peace, grace, and hope, to glory in suffering seems less understandable. But Paul ties together the hope of God’s glory flowing from the justification by faith with hope that arises amid suffering. If approached with long-term perspective and clinging to God, suffering can have a shaping influence in our lives that leads through perseverance and character to hope. In suffering we look for what is to come. Christian suffering, regardless of its cause, can lead us to look for our hope in God while also yielding to God’s work in us. We anticipate the hope of the glory of God yet to come.

We are upheld in this longing by the reality that “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit” (5:5). The Holy Spirit is the indwelling presence of God and the “deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (Ephesians 1:14). But here, the Christian is sustained amidst suffering’s shaping by the love of God in the present brought home to us by the Holy Spirit’s presence in us. It is this manifest presence of God’s love that strengthens us in suffering to persevere, to grow, and to hope.

Waiting on the Lord: Living with Hope in the Land Between

waiting.jpg

One of the most pervasive themes in the psalms is waiting.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly. (Psalm 5:3)

Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)

We wait in hope for the Lord;
he is our help and our shield. (Psalm 33:20)

Lord, I wait for you;
you will answer, Lord my God. (Psalm 38:15)

I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry. (Psalm 40:1)

The waiting described in the psalms is not some abstract waiting, but waiting that is focused on a person: the Living God. Unlike generalized “waiting for the world to turn” or “waiting for a miracle,” waiting on the Lord is based upon what we know of who God is – His character – and what God does – His activity.

Waiting on the Lord says, “I know who God is. I know what I’ve seen God do in biblical history, in other human lives, and in my own life. Because of that, I wait for God to meet me and act in my life.”

This sort of waiting is hopeful waiting. Hope is “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” Hope is fixed on the future but affects the way we live now. Hope is both an anticipation and an arrival at the same time. Waiting on the Lord is hopeful because we can both rest in God in the present and trust in God for the future.

But what does it look like to wait on the Lord? Does it mean we simply stop everything and sit around until God does something? No. Waiting on God is active. We continue with our lives, doing our best to walk in God’s ways, witness to God’s character, and fulfill our responsibilities as best as we can. In the midst of that, waiting on God gives us hope that transcends our circumstances as we look for God to work in our lives.

Here are three specific ways we can wait on the Lord with hope:

  1. First, we wait on God by reading His word. The psalmist says, “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5). Waiting with our hope in God means we both hope in His Word and live by His Word. As it says in Psalm 119:166, “I wait for your salvation, Lord, and I follow your commands.” The word of God gives us perspective and understanding so that we can move forward with God as we wait. Reading it regularly and transformationally helps us meet God and live with character in our waiting.
  2. Second, we wait on God in prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God—calling out to God—in the midst of our lives. Prayer is particularly important in times of waiting because we both need to express what is happening in our lives and wait upon God to speak to us. The regularity of calling out to God in prayer while waiting helps us give voice and give ear to God: “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice” (Psalm 5:3). As the psalms show us, prayer is a lifeline in the midst of waiting.
  3. Third, we wait on God by watching for Him. Transformational reading of Scripture changes us internally and prayer makes us attentive, but what then? From this new vantage point, we want to be watchful for God. We attentively consider these questions: “what is God doing?” and “where is God at work?” It is of minimal value if we read the Bible and pray each morning but then zone out from God for the rest of our day. “I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning” (Psalm 130:6). To wait on the Lord in hope means we watch with expectation for the appearing and involvement of the Lord.

Lord, I wait for You.
There is so much happening in my life and the world today.
Give me eyes to see You and ears to hear You as I wait upon You in my life.
I trust You and I rest in You today.

Emily Dickinson, “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” [Poetry for Easter]

Each week during Eastertide I am posting a poem that helps me engage more meaningfully with Jesus’ resurrection. Here is Emily Dickinson’s poem “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers.” While Emily Dickinson was anything but an orthodox Christian, many of her poems, such as this one, capture the power of religious themes and the deeper life. Living in the United States in the 18th-century, Dickinson spent the majority of her adult life as a recluse. Her first volume of poetry was published posthumously in 1890, enjoying immediate success and laying the groundwork for Dickinson to become one of the most important American poets.


“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.


Previous poems in this series:

George Herbert, “Easter Wings”

Denise Levertov, “On Belief in the Physical Resurrection of Jesus

Christian Wiman, “Every Riven Thing

T. S. Eliot, “East Coker,” Stanza IV