Summary: FROM THIS POINT ON, JESUS HAS SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM, WHERE THE CROSS IS WAITING. IN THESE VERSES HE SPEAKS OF HIS DEATH AND THE COMMITMENT THAT HIS DISCIPLES MUST MAKE TO FOLLOW HIM.
Lesson: Jesus Foretells His Death
FROM THIS POINT ON, JESUS HAS SET HIS FACE TO GO TO JERUSALEM, WHERE THE CROSS IS WAITING. IN THESE VERSES HE SPEAKS OF HIS DEATH AND THE COMMITMENT THAT HIS DISCIPLES MUST MAKE TO FOLLOW HIM. “Following Jesus” is the definition of “commitment.” Commitment demands a choice. Jesus wasted no time getting to the heart of commitment: either the disciples would be committed to Him and deny their own desires, or they would be determined to go their own ways and deny Him (Matt. 10:32–37). The choice to commit is the same for all believers—either we deny ourselves or deny Him; either we go His way, or we pursue our way.
Talk about Christ would be meaningless without the walk with Him. The disciples were to take up their crosses. Carrying the cross beam was a public declaration of Rome’s authority. Jesus challenged them to put themselves voluntarily under God’s authority, doing His will His way. Commitment demands action; it cannot be divorced from responsibility. It extends beyond our relationship to the heavenly Father to other areas of life. Ruth’s words of commitment to Naomi did not speak as loudly as did her actions. She left her family and homeland to return with Naomi to Bethlehem (Ruth 1:16, 17).
Commitment definitely limits choices because it is exclusive. For example, in a commitment to marriage, God’s plan is for one woman and one man to commit to each other exclusively and permanently (Matt. 19:5, 6).
Jesus demonstrated in the Garden of Gethsemane that the Father’s will always takes precedence over His. The next day, He picked up His Cross, demonstrating that He would do the Father’s will the Father’s way.
Commitment builds up your faith and develops your character. It is a spiritual discipline (Prov. 16:3). It is a lifetime venture, requiring time, work, and determination (Matt. 16:24).
From that time Jesus began to show to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day. (Matthew 16:21)
Jesus was aware that He would be rejected and put to death at Jerusalem. All this was necessary to bring the church into existence as the spiritual form of the kingdom on earth. He could now talk about these things openly, since the disciple’s faith was now strong enough to bear it. So from this point on the Lord’s ministry takes on a somewhat different complexion as He seeks to prepare His followers for the suffering that awaited him and the disappointment which they must suffer. The Elders whom He refers to are the religious leaders; probably members of the Sanhedrin. The words, “killed and raised again the third day,” clearly indicate that He is aware of His earthly ministry and destiny. Predicting His death and rejection was human, but only the God-man could predict a supernatural resurrection.
Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22)
I believe that Peter may have been a little puffed-up by the great things that Jesus had recently said to him, so he became bold enough to speak to Jesus in a harsh manner. It certainly was not becoming of him to take upon himself to advise his Master. God knows what He has to do, without our teaching. Romans 11:34 expresses this idea, “For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?”
Peter’s words are very passionate as he speaks against suffering and the offense of the cross. He said, “God forbid that you should suffer. We cannot bear the thought of it.” But he is mistaken, because we cannot measure Christ’s love and patience by our own.
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” (Matthew 16:23)
Christ’s displeasure with Peter is evident. He turned upon Peter, I suppose with a frown, and said, “Get behind me, Satan.” He addressed Satan in the same manner when He was tempted by him.
Why did Christ resent so much Peter’s proposition, which seems not only harmless, but kind? There are two reasons given:
1. You are an offense to Me,-He is saying, “Peter you are a hindrance; you are in my way.” Christ was so intent upon the work of our salvation, which must be accomplished at Calvary, that He was very sensitive to anything that would divert Him from it. Our Lord Jesus preferred our salvation before His own comfort and safety, for we are told in Romans 15:3, “For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on Me.” He didn’t come into the world to spare Himself, as Peter suggested, but to spend Himself.