Summary: A scriptural examination of WHY Christ had to suffer and die on the cross.
The Divine Necessity of the Cross
I want to start tonight with two words.
Words. What are they? They are the vehicles of thought--the means by which we communicate with one another. They are also the means by which God communicates to us--the Bible is a large collection of words--God’s words, expressing God’s thoughts.
But I’m not going to tell you what the words are. I want you to see if you can spot them. I’ll read out several verses from different places and see if you can see two words that appear in each verse. The verses are:
What are the two words? "MUST" and "SUFFER".
Look briefly also at Luke 24:46 where "behoved" is the same Greek word as "must".
I want to look at these two words tonight and this concept of the necessity of Christ’s suffering.
And I want to ask and then answer the question, Why MUST Christ SUFFER?
Look at Matthew 16:13-28.
Look at verse 21. What goes before it? What goes after it?
It’s the well known passage of Peter’s Confession.
You see that the multitudes had no idea that Jesus was the Christ. They thought he was John the Baptist, or Elias or Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.
Their eyes were not opened. Despite all that had happened and all that Jesus had done, they still did not recognize in Him the Christ.
The disciples, on the contrary, had had their eyes opened by revelation. They had come to know that Jesus was the Christ.
Let us remember that Christ is not a name but an office.
Jesus Christ isn’t the equivalent of John Smith. It would help us if we referred to Him as "the Christ." Christ is the Greek word for the Hebrew "Messiah." In English it is "Anointed One."
So this revelation that the disciples had and that Peter voiced was that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One.
Now notice what Jesus says immediately after this confession of Peter. v20 "Then charged He His disciples that they should tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ."
Why this prohibition?
Because before the disciples could proclaim the Christ to the multitudes, there was something fundamental that they would have to understand about Him, which they had not yet grasped, and would not grasp until after the resurrection.
They would be proclaiming "their" Christ. What was "their" Christ? Their Christ was one who was going to set up an earthly kingdom.
Their Christ was going to fulfil all the OT prophecies of dominion and power and glory.
Their Christ was going to reign from a throne in Jerusalem and throw off the Roman yoke, and they, the disciples, were going to be His companions in power.
That is why Jesus forbad them to speak forth this new revelation of Him as the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah. He knew that as yet they were under a misapprehension as to His real mission and the nature of His Kingdom.
Now notice the very next verse after this charge (v21). Did you know that this verse marks a distinct division in this gospel, and the corresponding portion in Mark?
Turn with me to Matt. 4:17. There he began his preaching ministry.
Now come again to 16:21 and notice how the verse starts: "From that time forth...." From that time forth what? BEGAN JESUS.... He began something there which marked a distinct turning point in His ministry. The rest of the gospel account deals not so much with preaching to multitudes, miracles, and so on; but has largely to do with teaching the disciples. And one of the chief things He tries to instill into them is the teaching about His death.
But look at Peter’s reaction. "Be it far from thee...." Peter’s mind can’t make the adjustment. He has just confessed the revelation that here before Him stands Jesus of Nazareth, and that this man is none other than the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah for which the whole nation of Israel has been waiting for for centuries. Here is the one Who at last is going to bring Israel out of the doldrums and a wonderful future lies ahead. And now He has started talking about suffering--about being rejected, and being killed, and of rising again. "Be it far from Thee Lord." Impossible! This can’t be! Don’t be so silly! Don’t talk such nonsense! It comes over very strong in the Mark account. Look at Mark 8:32. "And Peter took him and began to REBUKE Him!" What happens when you rebuke someone? You give them a telling off, right? That was Peter’s reaction to Jesus’ words about His coming sufferings and death.