Killed and Raised

Matthew 16:21-27

Certainly not new in history of world, but seems that particular ideas about death and dying getting more airtime in this century than before. Death preferable to life under certain conditions. Planned or orchestrated death (assisted suicide, euthanasia) viewed as better choice than death from prolonged illness. Death thought of mostly in terms of an end, end of life; reflected in euphemism for suicide – took his own life, ended his own life.

Bible doesn’t speak in those terms. Bible describes human beings according to view called dualism: “constituted of two irreducible elements (as matter and spirit)”. Material and immaterial, physical and spiritual, body and soul. At death, soul is separated from body; body ceases to function, begins to decay in earnest, eventually returns to dust. Not so the soul; continues to live (only God has power to take life from the soul, Matt. 10:28), but less than ultimate existence.

Both Peter (2 Peter 1:13-14) and Paul (2 Cor. 5:1-4) speak of body as a “tent”, a temporary house as residence for our soul in this life. And Paul makes it clear the ideal is not to be free of the tent, but to have a better one:

For in this [tent] we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our habitation which is from heaven”

Makes perfect sense that Jesus would teach disciples, prepare them for future in way that reflected that view of human life. Knew death of his body would only be temporary, did not keep that fact secret from his followers. Temporary as in “of short duration”; on third day, would be raised. Doesn’t mean they fully understood what he was saying; did have his repeated teaching to reflect back on after his resurrection and ascension.

Our text describes Jesus’ shift from public focus in ministry to targeted teaching, preparing disciples – “from that time”, during last 6 months before crucifixion. As if he said, ok, you got the first principle down – Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. Here’s the second principle: the Messiah must suffer and die. Oh yes, and be raised. Followers may not even have heard / registered part about rising again “the third day”. Like Martha, would have believed in resurrection, but at some time in distant future, “on the last day” (John 11:24) when everyone would experience resurrection.

Now, Jesus moved from veiled references about his impending death (Matt. 12:40, Jonah) to explicit teaching here, again, repeatedly (Mark 8, 9, 10). Fits perfectly with Matthew’s general perspective: “that it might be fulfilled”. Jesus knew prophecies, which ones spoke particularly of him and his suffering; knew that if God is truly God, all of them must be fulfilled. Saw clearly the road ahead of him: no speculation, only certainty, was committed to traveling it and teaching his followers along the way.

A. he must go

no external force, no fatalistic absence of alternatives, no martyr’s death for Lord Jesus

no one coerced or forced Jesus to begin, then follow through on the journey he knew would end in death

die was cast, path was determined before creation; journey began more than 30 yrs. before, at incarnation – one that would reach its ultimate depth at a hill called Calvary, then a donated grave

Jesus did have options

temptation in wilderness was real, no illusion; agony in Garden was real; but every alternative would have involved disobedience to Father’s will, choice Jesus refused to make

Jesus wasn’t confused about the time or place

didn’t simply get caught up in a political scheme gone wrong, an unfortunate martyr for unpopular cause

was the exact right time: “Father, the hour has come” (John 17:1); the exact right place: “it cannot be that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem” (Luke 13:33); the exact right reason: he “died for us, that …we should live together with him” (1 Thess. 5:10)

requirement of obedience and love

obedience to God’s “definite plan” – Acts 2:23-24 – Peter, freshly empowered by Holy Spirit, declared Jesus was “delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God” – not any wiggle room, room for error there

love for God’s people – 1 John 4:10 – sent by the Father to demonstrate his love; Jesus showed not only love for Father, also love for his people

reward for doing his Father’s will (Heb. 12:2, Psa. 40:8)

“for the joy set before him, endured the cross” – joy of obedience, inheritance – doing what pleased his Father, being firstborn among many brothers and sisters, full house in heaven

B. he must suffer many things

road to glory passes through suffering – Luke 24:26

agony of soul and body – concentrated in but not limited to “Good Friday”

physical/spiritual/emotional suffering at his temptation; attacks on personal character; challenges to his authority; sympathetic suffering for his people – needy sheep; agony of anticipation in the Garden; the mistreatment endured at the hands of men after his betrayal; just punishment for sin endured at hands of his Father

true from the beginning: Gen. 3:16-20

suffering an intentional part of the curse for the sinner

no sense of sin being offense to God apart from suffering; yes, objective truth of it conveyed by his Word. But,… suffering of either sinner or sacrifice that makes it real

suffering and oughtness go together: understanding life as we know it isn’t the way it ought to be

not purely self-centered; people of all kinds suffer when loved one suffers, have sense of helplessness – recognize it should be different but powerless to change it

necessary consequence of the curse for the sin-bearer

sacrifice is messy; no neat, comfortable way to pay penalty for sin, to satisfy righteous wrath of holy God

important side note: not just suffering for sake of suffering, suffering for sake of enduring; rather, suffering with purpose

Jesus suffered that he might: be a sympathetic high priest (Heb. 4:14); learn obedience (Heb. 5:8); be our substitute (2 Cor. 5:21), suffering in our place that we might be free

we suffer that we might grow in: obedience – “whom the Lord loves he chastens” (Heb. 12:6); dependence – “my grace is sufficient” (2 Cor. 12:9); Christ-likeness – “Christ suffered,…leaving us an example” (1 Pet. 2:21); discomfort – “desire to depart and be with Christ” (Phil. 1:23)

C. he must be killed

death also an integral part

no room here for swoon theory to explain away resurrection; no provision for someone to take Jesus’ place so he could escape death

not stating a fact but a necessity

not simply “he would be killed”, but “he must be killed”

a necessary part of God’s perfect plan – remember Peter’s declaration on Pentecost: “delivered according to God’s plan…you have crucified and put to death”

a necessary part of God’s redemptive plan – “wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) but… “he himself likewise partook of [flesh and blood], that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Heb. 2:14-15)

should be viewed in positive light

not possible result of failed mission but certain result of accomplished work

humanly speaking, death brings end to work, to accomplishment; even refer to achievements as their “life work”; for mere humans, an ok way to view it

Jesus’ death a component part of his work; would demonstrate that death could have no power over him

not an addon to his work, not the price of having done his work, is the very center of his work

Jesus’ “life work” was important but not enough to purchase salvation for his people

not a case of coming to end of his bucket list and saying “ok, I’ve done everything, I can die happy now”

no death and subsequent victory over it for Jesus, no hope of deliverance for us

not to be the end of hope

next chapter (Matt. 17:9) following Transfiguration, told of resurrection again: “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man is risen from the dead.”

side note: seems Jesus’ followers not surprised by event of his death, not even disappointed by it. Their problem with timing of it and what expected Jesus to accomplish. Were looking at what he would achieve before his death, not by his death. Were saddened by his failure to accomplish what they thought he would – redeem Israel from her earthly oppressors – before his untimely death. (Luke 24:21)

D. he must be raised

to keep his word

had declared from beginning of public ministry that death would not overcome him: “destroy this temple…”; public enough to make impression on scribes and Pharisees: “we remember how that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise'” (John 2:19-22; Matt. 27:63)

told his disciples what he would do “after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” (Matt. 26:32)

to fulfill scripture – Luke 24:44

everything written about him must be fulfilled; Peter declared resurrection was necessary fulfillment of Psa. 16:8-11 – “you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay” (Acts 2:27, 31)

to provide genuine hope

if Son of God himself cannot pull off bodily resurrection, no hope whatever for the rest of us

to be consistent with God’s design for human existence – soul and body

from beginning God has had plan to redeem his good creation from its fallen state, to provide for redeemed mankind’s full existence – purified soul in perfect tent, our habitation from heaven

It was package deal: go and suffer and be killed and be raised, all come under umbrella of necessity. One missing element destroys entire plan – God can’t work his plan, Jesus doesn’t know what he’s saying, Bible is fairy tale. WE know by testimony of God’s Word and Spirit the Bible is no fairy tale. Much about the cross is hideous, awful to view; it’s even a foolish message to a dying world. But for redeemed sinner, cross is something in which to boast; Christ exalted is hollow victory without Christ crucified. Same is true of empty tomb – Easter without Good Friday has no significance. May we like Paul boast in Christ and his great victory, glory in his cross and what it means to those who cling to him by faith.


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