Summary: Jesus' foretelling of his death in Luke 9:21-22 teaches us the necessity of his suffering.
In our study of the life and ministry of Jesus in The Gospel of Luke we have come to a decisive moment. Last time, in our study of Luke 9:18-20, we noticed that Jesus asked his twelve disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?”
And they answered, “John the Baptist. But others say, Elijah, and others, that one of the prophets of old has risen.”
Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”
One commentator said, “Peter’s confession represents a turning point in Luke’s Gospel.” Up until this point, Luke has been demonstrating the identity of Jesus: he is the Christ, the Messiah, the Promised One sent by God to seek and to save the lost.
From this point on Luke now focuses his attention on “the necessity of Jesus’ suffering, his vindication, and the resultant discipleship required of those who will follow him.”
So, immediately after Peter confesses Jesus as the Christ, Jesus foretells his death.
Let’s read about Jesus foretelling his death in Luke 9:21-22:
21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.” (Luke 9:21-22)
When our son Jon was growing up he had a hard time keeping a secret. For example, I would take the children out to the store to buy their Mom a birthday gift. I would also suggest that we take her out for a surprise birthday dinner. No sooner had we parked the car in the garage and walked into the house when Jon would shout, “Hey Mom! Guess what? We got you ear rings for your birthday gift and we are taking you to Hoss’s Steak House for a surprise birthday dinner!”
I suppose the upside about Jon not being able to keep a secret is that I had to behave at home so that I would not be embarrassed when he blurted out anything about me!
In Jesus’ ministry with his disciples, he often told them to keep his identity a secret. In the narrative we are going to examine today, Jesus does so as well. And this is just after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Christ. But Jesus went on to tell his disciples why they should keep his identity a secret.
The analysis of Jesus foretelling his death in Luke 9:21-22 teaches us the necessity of Jesus’ suffering.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. Jesus’ Command (9:21)
2. Jesus’ Prediction (9:22)
I. Jesus’ Command (9:21)
First, let’s look at Jesus’ command.
In Luke’s account of the life of Jesus, Peter had just made his great confession that Jesus is the Christ of God (9:20). In Matthew’s account of this confession, Jesus first said to Peter, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 16:17). The Father had revealed to Peter and the rest of the disciples the true identity of Jesus. But, rather strangely, just after Peter’s magnificent confession about the true identity of Jesus, Jesus strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one (9:21).
Jesus’ command for silence is called the “Messianic Secret.” One scholar notes, “The historicity of the command for silence involves one of the great debates of twentieth-century New Testament studies.” The question is understandable: why would Jesus want the disciples to be silent about who he is?
The context gives us the reason for Jesus’ command for silence. The disciples still needed further instruction about the kind of Christ (that is, Messiah) that Jesus was.
People in Jesus’ day understood that the Christ would be God’s Promised Deliverer. They understood that the Christ would deliver them from oppression, and that the Christ was a Suffering Servant and also a Victorious King.
However, Jesus knew that during his First Advent he was coming first as the Suffering Servant. Later, when he comes in his Second Advent, he will be coming as the Victorious King.
As you know, the Jews were in bondage to the Roman Empire at the time, and so they keenly expected that God was going to send the Christ as the Victorious King who would free them from the bondage of Roman oppression. But the people had it backwards because Jesus came first as the Suffering Servant. He was going to deliver his people from the bondage of sin. Only during his Second Advent will he come as the Victorious King who will rule visibly forever.
So, Jesus’ command for silence was so that his disciples would grow in their understanding that he was not a political Christ or a Victorious King, but rather that he was a Suffering Christ, a savior who would die to pay for his people’s sins.