Title: Instruction concerning the death of the King
Scriptures to Read: Mark 8:31-9:1; Matthew 16:21–28; Luke 9:22–27
From that time
Notice that it was “from that time” that Jesus began to teach His disciples about His coming death and resurrection. What time is Matthew referring to? It is only after Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah that Jesus begins to spell out His program of death and resurrection. This is the first time He begins to deal with that specific aspect of His mission. And Mark adds here that “He was stating the matter plainly.” As we continue through the gospels we shall see that He will say this in more and more detail as the time for the cross draws closer.
Four points about His coming death and resurrection
At this point Yeshua keeps it simple by pointing out four steps:
1. He must go to Jerusalem.
2. There He must suffer and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes.
3. He will be killed.
4. The third day He will rise again.
Notice that Matthew and Luke record that He said “on the third day”, and Mark records that He said “after three days.” As far as Jewish writers are concerned, these terms carry exactly the same meaning. He will arise on the third day; He will arise after three days.
Here we see that Peter’s understanding was incomplete. His sight was only partial. The first time Jesus described the program of His death and resurrection, Peter, who has just passed the test in the previous section with flying colours, fails the test in this section. He took Jesus aside and began to rebuke him. The Greek word for rebuke is a very strong word. It means: “to reprove, to censor, to prevent an action from happening, even the use of physical restraint.” So you can picture Peter taking hold of Jesus to restrain Him, and rebuking Him, saying: “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” Notice the paradox in this situation. Immediately before this Peter said to Jesus: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the God, the living one.” And now Peter rebukes the Messiah, the Son of the God, the Living One. Who goes around rebuking the Messiah? Peter, that’s who!
Get behind me Satan
Jesus’ response is in verse 23: But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan!” Now Jesus didn’t suddenly have a memory lapse and forget Peter’s name. So why does He address Peter this way? The point is that Peter, in trying to keep Messiah from the Cross, is doing exactly what Satan is trying to do. Satan does want to see Jesus dead, but he doesn’t want Him to die at the proper time (at Passover) or in the proper way, which was by crucifixion. So Peter, in trying to keep Jesus from the Cross, is doing the work of Satan.
Lesson on discipleship
What does it mean to take up a cross and follow Him? It was the Roman custom to make convicted criminals carry their own crosses to the place of crucifixion. So bearing a cross meant carrying their own execution device while facing ridicule and humiliation along the way to death. Therefore, to take up a cross and follow Him means to choose to identify with Him, knowing that the consequence may very well be rejection and humiliation, and even death. Anyone wishing to be His disciple must identify with Him in His rejection. The Scriptures draw a clear distinction between salvation and discipleship. Salvation is the mere act of faith exercised in believing that He died for our sins, was buried, and rose again. And that is the only way of salvation given in Scripture. But discipleship involves a lot more than simply believing in Him, and the first point He makes here is that the disciple must fully identify with His rejection.
Notice the emphasis on that particular generation in verse 38 of Mark: “For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man also shall be ashamed of him, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”The emphasis is on that particular generation. And, even among His believers, those who become ashamed of Him, will find that the Messiah will be ashamed of him at the second coming. This is not a loss of salvation, but the loss of his place of reward in the Messianic Kingdom.
Then Jesus makes another point: that some of his disciples will not die until they see the glory He will have in that Messianic Kingdom. His emphasis is on seeing the power of that kingdom, the glory of that kingdom. The promise made in this section is fulfilled in the next section with the revelation of the kingdom at the transfiguration.