Before the crucifixion, and while on His way to Jerusalem, Jesus predicts His death in conversation with His disciples three different times. In each of Jesus’ predictions of His death, there is an expanding description of the suffering, but there is a consistent description of resurrection, each time given in one final phrase:
“…on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21)
“…on the third day he will be raised to life” (Matthew 17:23)
“On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20:19)
Although each of these predictions hold a promise of suffering, that “the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified” (20:17-20), at the very same time Jesus offers a pathway of hope. And that hope is not only for Him, but also for all who reach out to Him by faith.
Suffering is not the end. Yes, it is true that “he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; [that] the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Yes, it is true that Jesus must suffer, be betrayed, be mocked and beaten and crucified in order to bring salvation.
But this is not His end. On the third day He will rise in victory over death’s deathblow, shake sin’s shadows with forgiveness, and share salvation with us. You cannot keep a good man down. This is hope.
Love arrives in Jesus. Just ponder with me how great the love of God is that He “sent His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Let me ask each one of us some questions about this. Do we know the greatness of that love personally? Have we begun to realize just how great God’s love is for us? Have we begun to realize just how far God will go to reach us? He will enter the darkest tunnel, deep down under the weight of our own sin, he will enter into that with us and do what we cannot do without Him. He will break free and lead us to victory. Love arrives in Jesus.
And hope rises through Jesus. Sin does not have the greatest power. Death does not have the final word. Evil cannot extinguish God’s good work. Hope rises through Jesus. And by faith, we too, can rise with Him. As Paul the Apostle says: “just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).
So let us grasp ahold of Jesus by faith. Let us believe that Jesus is the One and Only who arrives with love and rises with hope. Let us grab ahold of His hand, believing that He can take us through sin’s dark tunnel that ends in death into the light of God’s presence. Let us believe:
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)