Summary: Jesus' passion prediction in Luke 18:31-34 teaches us that what happened to him was in fact a fulfillment of prophecy.
In his book Future Babble, journalist Dan Gardner explores our obsession with “experts” who claim to predict future events. Gardner relies on the work of Philip Tetlock, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, who produced a massive 20-year analysis of 27,450 predictions from 284 “experts.” Tetlock concluded that as a group the “experts” did little better, and sometimes considerably worse, than “a dart-throwing chimpanzee”!
Gardner’s book lists a number of examples of these inaccurate predictions:
• In 1914 the British journalist H. N. Norman proclaimed that “there will be no more wars among the six great powers.” There have been two world wars since his prediction.
• In 1968 the president of Anaconda Copper Mining Company predicted that his company would be successful for 500 years. Less than ten years later, fiber optics trumped copper and Anaconda was out of business.
• Also in 1968 Paul Ehrlich predicted that overpopulation would produce a total collapse in the world’s food supply. Instead, the world’s food supply has increased dramatically.
• In 1974 Ehrlich confidently asserted, “If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.” England, of course, is still in existence today.
• In 2008 experts at Goldman Sachs predicted that oil prices would surge to over $200 per barrel within six months. Instead, the price for petroleum fell to $34 per barrel.
So why do we keep listening to these “expert” predictions even when they’re wrong? According to Gardner, people hate uncertainty. “Whether sunny or bleak,” Gardner wrote, “convictions about the future satisfy the hunger for certainty. We want to believe. And so we do [keep listening to these ‘expert’ predictions].”
While on his final journey to Jerusalem Jesus made yet one more prediction about his upcoming passion. We shall learn how accurate Jesus was about predicting his own future.
Let’s read about Jesus foretelling his death a third time in Luke 18:31-34:
31 And taking the twelve, he said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32 For he will be delivered over to the Gentiles and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spit upon. 33 And after flogging him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise.” 34 But they understood none of these things. This saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. (Luke 18:31-34)
Jesus was on his final trip to Jerusalem. In fact, he was only a few days from arriving in Jerusalem. The closer he got to Jerusalem the clearer Jesus became about his upcoming passion.
The word “passion” is interesting. We usually think of passion as referring to an emotion that is deeply stirring, such as love or sexual desire. And that is its usual meaning in our modern English. However, the Latin root of the word “passion” (passio) means “suffering.” Understood in this sense, the word “passion” refers particularly to the suffering of Jesus Christ.