Lesson 66: Jesus Foretold His Death and Said the Kingdom was Near!
Matt. 16:21-28, Mark 8:31-9:1, Luke 9:21-27
A Blending of The Four Gospel Records. Welcome to lesson # 66. This lesson is a continuation of the occasion when Jesus took his apostles to Caesarea Philippi. The kingdom was truly at hand. The occasion at Caesarea Philippi must have been between nine months and one year before the establishment of the church. Jesus had just revealed in Matt. 16:19 that the apostles would be involved in the work of establishment of the kingdom. Jesus would give them the keys or authority to act and they would loose and bind the appropriate laws and rules. But, the time was not yet appropriate. Up until this point; Jesus had told them about the kingdom and described the coming kingdom in parables. The kingdom is likened unto so-and-so. Jesus had made reference to his death a number of times in a general sort of way, e.g. he had likened it unto Jonah. But, up until this time; we have no record of Jesus dwelling on the subject. Thus, this lesson for the first time begins to get down to specific facts as it would personally involve the disciples. We're going to start our reading in Luke 9:21. So please be turning there. As I've said, this is a continuation of the same occasion. Mark and Matthew both record a sequel to Luke. We're going to read all three records before commenting. Luke ch. 9, beginning in v.21. We'll read v.21-27, let's read. "And he straitly charged them, and commanded them to tell no man that thing; saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day. And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away? For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels. But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God."
O.K. let's back up quickly to the book of Mark. We'll start with Mark 8:31. We'll finish off Mark ch. 8 and read one verse in Mark ch. 9. Are you ready? Mark 8:31. Let's read. "And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spake that saying openly. And Peter took him, and began to rebuke him. But when he had turned about and looked on his disciples, he rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men. And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for hs soul? Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power."
Now on to Matthew! We're going to start with Matt. 16:21 and read through the end of Matt, ch. 16. That's v.21-28. Are you ready? Beginning in Matt. 16:21, "From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, arid be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."
There's a lot here worthy of our attention. Notice first v.21 in Matthew's account. Matthew says this was another bench mark so-to-speak in Jesus' personal ministry; i.e. so far as the apostles were concerned. This may have had to do somewhat with the stages of development; but, it undoubtedly means also that Jesus recognized that the apostles were maturing and growing in faith somewhat. "From that time forth..." i.e. from the occasion at Caesarea Philippi, or in other words approximately 10 or 12 months before the kingdom came with power on Pentecost in AD 33. From that time forth, Jesus began to foretell the way his death would come about. Mark said simply that Jesus "began to teach them." Then, Matthew gives us a summary of what Jesus began to show Matthew and the other disciples. All three writers give a similar summary. (#1) Jesus began to show how he must go to Jerusalem. (#2) Jesus began to show how he must suffer many things of the elders, chief priests and scribes. These three elements made up the Sanhedrin Council, the highest tribunal of the Jews; thus, this is another way of saying that council. That's the council, you will remember, that Nicodemus was a member. (#3) Jesus began to show how he would be killed. (#4) Jesus began to show how he would be raised again the third day. Matthew says Jesus began to explain and foretell these things. Now, keep in mind, Matthew and the others wrote these books after the fact. It's an incredible fact; but, the apostles NEVER, even to the very hour of Jesus ascension from the mount of Olives; the apostles never really understood the significance of all of this. Yet, Matthew says they were plainly told months before. Also, we must realize a suffering messiah was not one of the things the Rabbi had emphasized. It is clearly prophesied in the O.T., yes. But, those prophecies tended to be glossed over. That's why the popular concept of the messiah was a triumphant, conquering, towering political figure that would liberate the Jews from all oppression. So, you see the concept of a suffering messiah was foreign and startling even to the apostles.
Now after Jesus began to talk about these thing; how he must suffer and how he must die; Matthew says Peter took Jesus aside, i.e. Peter wanted a private conversation with Jesus. When they were separated from the other disciples; Peter began to rebuke Jesus privately saying, "Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee." It would appear that Peter got so involved in this that he forgot his place as a disciple. Undoubtedly, Peter thought Jesus was becoming disheartened. And Peter envisioned that if Jesus began to talk in such negative terms; it would discourage the other disciples. You see, Peter was used to commanding the ship on Galilee. His thoughts were, that such negative talk WAS NOT THE WAY to win friends and influence people. So, as I said, Peter had momentarily forgotten his place as a disciple. Jesus had praised Peter for speaking up and confessing that Jesus was the Christ the Son of the living God. Jesus gave praise where praise was. But, Jesus was just as lavish with criticism when the need arose. And, this was one of those occasions when the need arose. Look at v.23, (I'm'talking about Matthew), Jesus turned, i.e. Jesus turned back toward the disciples and said to Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." Mark's words are very close to Matthew. You see, we have a terrible time separating our humanity from our spirituality. It's very difficult for most of us. Spiritual thinking is as far from material thinking as the north is from the south. Look at that word "savorest". Matthew and Mark both used that same word in their quote. Luke didn't cover this part of the story. But, what does that word mean? SAVOREST? It has to do with an aroma, a smell, or that which tempts one to go in that direction. Jesus told SOME ONE ELSE once to "Get thee behind me, Satan." Who was that? If you said the devil, you are right. (Luke 4:8, back at the temptation of Jesus). So, you see, Jesus put it on the line; whether he was talking to Satan or Peter it didn't matter. It's interesting that neither writer gives us Peter's reaction to Jesus' rebuke. Do you remember the day when Peter and Jesus were in the boat and Jesus told Peter to launch out into the deep? "Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: NEVERTHELESS AT THEY WORD I WILL LET DOWN THE NET." Peter believed in obeying his Lord. He may have found himself out-of-order on a few occasions; but, Peter's heart was right. So, keep an eye on Peter! As I said once before, we can learn much by studying the characteristics of the people that Jesus chose to be apostles.
Now, it's interesting in Mark 8:34, that Jesus "called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them..." Even though Jesus and his apostles had gone all the way to Caesarea Philippi, they still were not alone. So, you must realize that the things which Jesus said about taking up our cross and following Jesus, daily; was said to the crowd as well as the disciples. The disciple must follow his Lord. We must follow his teaching and we must follow his example. To come after me, means: we must follow the same road and be willing to bear the same burdens as our Lord. This of course does not mean our burdens will be identical with Jesus; obviously not. But, we must be willing and ready to "deny ourself" and "take up his cross", i.e. one's own cross or duty and follow Jesus. God's nature is free from all desire of evil and all sympathy with evil. The reign and desire of lust hinders obedience to God. To deny one's self means to renounce anything that stands in the way of obedience. You see, when Jesus said "If any will come after me"; that implies that we are free moral agents. If we follow Christ, we must choose to do so. To take up our cross simply means to do our duty; whatever that may require. All this was saying that NOT ONLY must Jesus suffer; it was saying his disciples must suffer with him. Look at Mark 8:35, "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it." Jesus here makes a play upon two different kinds of life. This temporal life and spiritual life. We could lose our temporal life in line of our Christian duty. But, if we do, we'll find life eternal on the other side you see. If we refuse to follow Jesus, trying to save our neck here so-to-speak, let down on carrying our cross and our daily duty, then we may save our temporal life here for a time; but, we'll wind up losing it over on the other side.
But, then v.36 shows what a terrible bargain that would be. "What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" The message here is that a lost life can never be regained. If you lose a dollar, you may get a second chance at recovering it. But, if we lose eternal life, it can never be recovered. No purgatory! "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" A very soul searching question. Mark 8:38, Jesus said, "Whosoever..." How many is that? Does that include me? You better believe it! "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels." Do you remember what Jesus said to the apostles in Matt. 10:32, If you confess me before men; I'll confess you before the heavenly Father. If you deny me before men; I'll deny you before the heavenly Father. You see, Peter had just been ashamed of the words that Jesus had used to describe his death. Peter said, don't talk like that. I assure you it will never happen. Jesus warned Peter and all others that would be ashamed of Jesus. And, just as those apostles were not ready for the death and suffering of Jesus; we probably won't be quite ready for Jesus' return. It's like a death in our own families. We know it's going to happen sometime. Yet, we're never ready when it happens. It's like pregnancy, it always brings a shock wave even when it is expected.
Now, don't miss those words in Mark 8:38, "when he cometh in the glory of his Father with his holy angels." My friend, that hasn't happened yet. But, Jesus hasn't closed his account either. The time is pending. King Jesus is going to return; to quote Luke: "he shall come in his own glory." (v.26). Do you remember the parable of the tares? "The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity..." (Matt. 13:41). What about the parable of the net? "The kingdom of heaven is like unto a net...So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just..." Did you notice in Luke's account (v.25) that he equates the idea of being lost with the words "cast away?" And those are the words used in the parable of the net? The Bible plainly teaches a judgment.
All three writers say this; but, let's take the first verse of Mark ch. 9. Before some of the apostles died, the kingdom of God would come with power. Some teach that the kingdom came with John the Baptist. Others think it started with Jesus' personal ministry. But, this verse establishes beyond a shadow of a doubt; that the kingdom had NOT come at the time discussed here. Some today are so foolish as to argue that the kingdom has not come yet. Some say it came in 1832 or 1917 or some other date. As a matter of fact eleven out of the 13 people standing there lived to see the kingdom come with power. However, Judas and Jesus both died before the kingdom came the following Pentecost, less than a year from the time of this conversation. Of course, Jesus arose from the dead; but, he still tasted of death for every man. Notice there are two comings mentioned here. In v.38, Jesus referred to himself as the Son of man and said he would come with his holy angels in the glory of his heavenly Father. That of course has reference to Jesus' second coming at the end of the world. But, the kingdom of God in Mark 9:1, that was to come with power; has reference to the church that was established, as I have said, on Pentecost of AD 33.Until our next lesson, have a good day.