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JESUS’ REPEATED PREDICTION OF HIS SUFFERING AND DEATH

Luke 18:31-18:34
Key Verse: 18:32

In the last lesson Jesus let little children come to him and clearly and graciously presented the way to enter the kingdom of God to a rich young ruler. May we pray continually to follow Jesus in our generation with child-like full trust and with commitment and courage. In today’s passage we see that the end of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is drawing near. In the final portion of this journey (18:31-19:44), Jesus is preparing for what lies ahead. In this passage Jesus again predicts his suffering, death and resurrection to his disciples. In recent time globalization affects not only politics and economics of the world, but also religion and each individual’s belief. In this trend of the world it will be significant to review the core of Christian faith, his suffering death and resurrection. May we newly think about who Jesus is and what he has done for us based on today’s passage.

First, the fulfillment of the prophecies regarding the Son of Man (31). Look at verse 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.’” After Jesus’ Galilean ministry Jesus has been heading toward Jerusalem. 9: 51 says, “As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem.” Since then, Luke mentions the final destination of Jesus’ journey intermittently so that the readers may remember it. In 13:22, “Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem”, and in 17:11, “Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee.” And now here in 18:31, this time Jesus said to his twelve disciples whom he took aside, “We are going up to Jerusalem.” In other translation Jesus’ saying verse 31 begins with the word, “look”, “see”, “listen carefully”, or “behold.” It draws our attention. The great feasts pilgrims wended their way to Jerusalem to worship there, which included the bringing of an offering. Jesus, too, is now “going up to Jerusalem,” to bring himself as an offering for “the sin of the world.”

In Luke’s gospel Jesus particularly said to his disciples, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.” Luke’s gospel is written especially in the thought of the Gentiles. In this gospel of Luke Jesus is depicted as a light for the Gentiles. Yet, Luke as a historian was interested in writing what was fulfilled. So he said in 1:1, “Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us…” We can understand this in the fact that he was not an eye-witness. So in order to write the certainty of the things it is important for him to write what had been fulfilled. On the contrary John stressed that he was an eye-witness, although he also wrote the Scripture’s fulfillment. He said in John 19:35, “The man who saw it has given testimony, and his testimony is true.” In Luke’s gospel the word “fulfill” or “fulfilled” (1:1; 4:21; 18:31; 21:24; 22:37; 24:44) or “fulfillment” (9:31; 21:22; 22:16; 22:37) is written meaningfully ten times. Jesus said in a synagogue in his hometown of Nazareth, “…Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (4:21). Especially, the risen Jesus said to his disciples in 24:44, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Particularly, what is written about his suffering and then his glory had to be fulfilled (24:25-26; 24:46).

It will be good to think of the prophecies regarding the Son of Man in the Old Testament. Among many prophecies in the Old Testament we can consider several of them. In Genesis 3:15, right after man’s fall God promised to send a Savior through the offspring of a woman. It says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.” In God’s curse upon the serpent was embedded the suffering and victory of the promised Saviour to save fallen mankind. This is the pre-gospel. In Genesis 22 God commanded Abraham to offer his one and only son Isaac as a burnt offering. It was a thunderous command to Abraham. But Abraham wanted to obey this command because he truly loved God. As he reached out his and took the knife to slay his son Isaac, the angel of the LORD stopped him from doing so, calling, “Abraham! Abraham!” At this Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place “The LORD Will Provide.” God could not bear Abraham’s heart-breaking pain of sacrificing his own son, one and only son. Then in this event is an implication that God would bear the pain of sacrificing his own Son, one and only Son as his prepared burnt offering for the salvation of mankind. In John 8:56 Jesus said to the Jews, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.” In Exodus the last plague among ten upon the Egyptians was the killing of every firstborn son in Egypt. However, God would save the Israelites from this death plague when they put the blood of a lamb, a year old male without defect on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses. The LORD said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex 12:13). In this way the Israelites were saved from the plague of death. The lamb was called the Passover lamb (Ex 12:21). Then Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed.” And all the sacrifice system in Leviticus by which numerous animals were slaughtered and their blood shed looks forward to the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God (Heb 10:10-11). Hebrews 9:22 says that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” According Hebrews 9:13-14, the blood of animals cleansed people outwardly (Lev 16:30), but the blood of Christ cleanses inwardly, our conscience. So John 1:29 says, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” In Numbers when the Israelites were dying by the venomous snakes’ biting in their sins and were desperately asking for the way of surviving, God told Moses to make a snake and put it on a pole so that anyone who was bitten could look at it and live (Num 21:6-9). Then Jesus said in John 3:14,15, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” David cried out in Psalm 22:1 says, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” This is the very cry of Christ Jesus when he was in great anguish dying on the cross (Mt 27:46; Mk 15:34). Isaiah 53:5 says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” This prophet clearly wrote even in the Old Testament that Christ’s being pierced and crushed was for our sin. And in Zechariah it is written, “They will look on me, the one they have pierced” (12:10) and “I will remove the sin of this land in a single day” (3:9). No gospel writer explicitly wrote that Christ died for man’s sins at the time of his crucifixion and death. But Luke wrote Jesus’ prayer on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” signifying that Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins. Later apostles clearly wrote that Christ died for our sins (1 Cor 15:3; 1 Pe 2:24; 1 Jn 2:2).

In regard to resurrection of Christ, David said in Psalm 16:10, “…nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” Then in Acts Apostle Peter clearly mentioned that in this Psalm David as a prophet spoke of the resurrection of Christ seeing what was head (Ac 2:30). And it is written in Hosea 13:14, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death, Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?” Then later Apostle Paul quoted these words and shouted in 1 Corinthians 15:56, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” Surely, this is our victory over death through the resurrection of Christ Jesus.

The Scriptures are about Jesus, testifying about him (Jn 5:39), the prophecies and the fulfillment regarding the Son of Man, Christ Jesus, particularly his suffering, death and resurrection. The last promise concerning him that is to be fulfilled is his second coming. That will be the end of human history. It is true that history is about him, his story. So it is written repeatedly in Revelation, the last book of the Bible, “I am the Apha and the Omega, the First and the Last, and the Beginning and the End” (Rev. 1:8,17; 2:8; 21:6; 22:13). We learn that our faith should be founded on the written words of the Scriptures, the Bible, and Jesus should be the centre of our life and story.

In this world there is no fulfillment. No one even can prophesy with 100% assurance what will happen tomorrow. As we observed the Bible is the book of the fulfillment with numerous promises, and Christianity is uniquely the religion of fulfillment. And the fulfillment is of Christ Jesus and in him. So in Christ each believer’s life is to be the life of fulfillment with God’s personal promises. This is true in the life of Abraham, who accepted God’s promise, “You will be a blessing” (Ge 12:2), and of Apostle Peter, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will catch men” (Lk 5:10) and of many others. We thank God and believe that in Christ Jesus we can also live a life of fulfillment with God’s promises personally given to us, although we are live in this world of anxiety and uncertainty.

Second, the prediction of the Son of Man’s suffering and death (32-34). Look at verse 32. “He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” In Luke’s gospel this is the seventh time Jesus told his disciples for his upcoming suffering. It will be good to trace each of them. In 5:34, Jesus said, “…the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, in those days they will fast” as the answer to the question of his disciples’ not fasting. Certainly, it is referring to his death. In 9:22, when Peter made the confession of Christ, Jesus said to his disciples, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Then after healing a boy with an evil spirit he said to his disciples in 9:44, “Listen carefully to what I am about to tell you: The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men.” And he said to his disciples in 12:50, “But I have baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is completed!” Here baptism refers to the baptism of his death. And in 13:32,33 when he heard about Herod’s threatening to kill him, he said, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal. In any case, I must keep going today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” And in 17:25, while he was telling his disciples about his second coming, which will be like the lightening, he said, “But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

Now Jesus said to his disciples, “He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.” At that time the Jews had no right to execute anyone under Roman’s rule. So Jesus would be handed over to the Gentiles for his death. Also, it signifies that his death would be not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles, in fact for all people of the world. When Jesus said, “They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him”, he predicted his upcoming in detail and the suffering would be progressively intense. “Mock”, “insult” and “spit” were for the purpose of psychological torture. When Jesus was arrested and brought to be tried, the guards mocked him and beat him. They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” And they said many other insulting things to him (Lk 22:63-65). Before his crucifixion the soldiers mocked him. They put a purple robe on him, then twisted a crown of thorns and set it on his head. And they called out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees they paid homage to him (Mk 15:17-19; Mt 27:28-30). Flogging was a terrible physical torture. It was so cruel that many fainted and even died while being flogged. Jesus was flogged by Roman soldiers (Mt 27:26; Mk 15:15). In the movie “Passion of Christ” those who flogged Jesus were exhausted and took turns while Jesus was constantly flogged. His shoulders and back and chest became crimson red with many stripes made and much blood wooing out. To my eyes he sustained his life only by his spirit. And Jesus was killed by crucifixion (Mt 20:19). Crucifixion was so horrible that Roman criminals did not receive this punishment but only slaves and non-Romans. It was the most terrifying scheme man had ever invented to execute fellow human being. In Psalm 22 his agony and pain was described this way, “…all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. My strength is dried up like a potsherd (sunbaked clay)…a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet” (22:14-16). After this suffering and death, he would rise again on the third day.

When Jesus said, “They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him,” he must have portrayed his upcoming suffering so vividly. We are reminded that all these unbearable sufferings of Jesus is for you and for me, for the salvation of mankind. If men can be saved through their good acts and good lives, this suffering and sacrifice of Jesus was for nothing and in vain. That could not be the case, never. Yet, Satan’s laying is so prevalent in our time of religious pluralism and so many people are deceived. At Pope Frances visiting America, there was interfaith prayer at ground zero in NY. 12 representatives of religions were gathered centred on the Pope and their prayers were offered in their own ways of prayer. To my surprise a protestant representative did not pray in Jesus’ name but just recited the Beatitudes, although it would be a question that what kind of prayer could be made in such an atmosphere. Anyway, all such prayers were nothing but a ceremony displayed before the public. We cannot compromise with the words of Jesus, who said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (Jn 14:6). We cannot forget how Jesus opened the way for us to come to God the Father, a new and living way (Heb 10:20). It is through his unbearable suffering, mocked, flogged and crucified. Again, such a suffering is not in vain. Such a suffering and sacrifice cannot be done twice, but one time is in history. It is once for all. Jesus suffered in our place. We praise Jesus. However, those who reject this suffering of Jesus should face their own unbearable suffering. As for those who accept this suffering Christ Jesus need to make every effort to keep our faith in the gospel of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. Furthermore we should be defenders of the gospel and advancers of the gospel in this deceptively human-centred generation. Apostle Paul encourage us to live for him who died for us (2 Corinthians 5:15)

Look at verse 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.” This was their present situation. Yet, through Jesus’ repeated teaching about his suffering, death and resurrection, they would be witness of these things, giving their lives for him. The way of salvation through the gospel is hidden to the eyes of the people of the world. So God wants us to be his witnesses in this world.

Thank God for this study. We again pray that our faith may be founded on the written words of the Bible. Thank God for Jesus who took up the unbearable suffering for us. May we reflect Jesus’ suffering for us in our hearts and lives and live for him who died for us so that our lives also may be a fulfillment of God’s promise in the history of God.

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