Summary: A discussion about one possible reason Jesus mentioned for the third time that He would be killed and brought back to life - that they needed to stay focused on the mission of Jesus.

Keep Your Eye on the Task

Matthew 20:17-19

April 20, 2008



A woman was working in her yard with the weed whacker, when she accidentally cut off the tail of her cat.

She ran screaming into the house, and told her husband, wondering what to do.

He replied calmly, "Get the cat, and the tail, and we’ll take them to Wal-Mart."

She was incredulous. "How could that possibly help?" she asked.

"Well," he replied, "they’re the world’s largest retailer." (Cybersalt Digest)

Today, you’re in for a shorter than normal sermon. I know – you pay good money for me to preach to the point that you have to eat what everyone else rejected at the buffet, but there you go.

Today you’ll actually be able to get there ahead of the crowd, for the most part.

Forgive me? Whew! Thanks! So let’s dive in, shall we?

Me: You know what I hate? Walking into a room and forgetting why I went in there.

I know that you’ve only read and heard about stuff like that happening to people, but it actually happens to me sometimes.

I’m only 43, and I get frustrated by something that I figure shouldn’t be happening to me quite yet.

Another thing that gets my goat is when I get distracted by something and I forget what I was doing.

I might be in the middle of a very important task or project, then the next thing you know, I’m hours into something else entirely.

We: Anybody else like that? It’s okay – you can be honest. No one’s going to laugh at you – too hard…

It’s easy to get distracted from our main purpose in life by, well, life itself.

We’re trying to make a living, trying pay the bills, trying to get kids to soccer and dance and baseball and whatever other activities they’re in, trying to get dinner on the table and diapers changed, and the lawn mowed.

We can get very busy doing the stuff of life that we can lose sight of what life is supposed to be all about in the first place.

God: Jesus was a busy guy. He had people to heal, miracles to perform, religious leaders to call out, and all sorts of stuff.

But as great as all that stuff is, Jesus had one mission that had to be taken care of above all else.

Matthew 20:17-19

17 Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 18 "We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death 19 and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!"

This is the third time Jesus has mentioned His upcoming death.

And you know what – I was tempted to just skip over these three verses, but a number of years ago I came to the conclusion that there is a reason for everything in the Bible, and therefore there must be a reason for this portion.

And so I thought we’d better cover this section to see what we can learn that can help us know Jesus better and love Him more.

Even though this is the third reference, it contains some things they hadn’t heard before:

That Jerusalem would be the actual setting of His death, that it would involve the Gentiles, and that He would be crucified.

One thing to note here about Jesus’ mention of the Gentiles here is that their method of capital punishment was different than the Jewish method.

Do you know what the Jewish method was? Stoning.

The Gentile, or Roman method of capital punishment was crucifixion.

Up to this point, Jesus had mentioned Jerusalem as where stuff would start happening, that He would be put to death, and that He would rise again on the third day.

But these were new details that they needed to know as they got closer to Jerusalem to face what He knew would be the final week of His life on earth.

So why would He take the time to tell them one more time about what was going to be happening very soon?

I can think of a few reasons:

1. To give them more details.

He wanted them totally in the loop, so when everything unfolded, they wouldn’t be caught by surprise, although they still didn’t understand everything, which leads me to the second reason Jesus might have done this:

2. The disciples still weren’t grasping His mission.

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