The Son Of Man Must Suffer
Key Verse 8:31
“He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”
Jesus’ disciples’ lives must have been one midterm exam after another. But since they were never graded for them they must have felt free to answer Jesus’ questions, even if they didn’t know the answers too well. But of all the exams they were accustomed to taking, the last exam Jesus handed out to them was unique, and the toughest of all. The question on the test was: “Who do people say I am?” (27) That was easy! And they probably took turns answering that question. They had heard some say that he was a great prophet. Others were saying that Jesus was John the Baptist come to life again. But then Jesus gave them another test question: “But what about you?” “Who do you say I am?” (29) But it was a fair question, based on the evidence they had witnessed in regards to his person, his life and his works. Now, what will they conclude? What decisions will they make? That’s what made this particular test difficult for the unsuspecting disciples?
There comes a time in every person’s life when this question would become necessary to answer. At that time, it will not matter what others are saying about Jesus; It won’t matter what history is saying about Jesus; It really won’t matter what the person had been told or taught about Jesus or the Christian faith; Nor anything else will matter. The only thing that will matter is this: “What about you? Who do you say I am?” That’s the question that every human being will have to answer at some point in their lives. At that time, no amount of learning nor intellect, nor knowledge about religion nor religious rites, nor wisdom, not even the goodness of a person will help assist them in answering this question. There will be no opportunity to cheat on the exam. One cannot rely on philosophy books and history books and books about religion, nor can one depend on their upbringing in a godly home. The answer will not come from there. The answer must come from the heart, and it must be based on the evidence about Jesus found in the Bible; a conviction of faith that Jesus is the Savior of my soul, and that the evidence is all around me, and in my own heart.
Peter didn’t wait to be called upon to answer. He spoke up. “You are the Christ.” (29) The evidence was clear; the conclusion was obvious; the ruling was final: Jesus is the Christ. “You are the Christ.” It was a true confession of faith from the seat of his heart and soul. And it became the faith that Jesus used to build the church. It became the only faith that unifies all of us with the common conviction that Jesus is the Savior of the world— and my Savior. This confession of faith also became the key to the kingdom of God which Jesus said even hell cannot overcome. Christians also take up this confession as they battle against the darkness that swallows the souls of so people. With this confession of faith nothing can stand against the child of God? Yes they struggle and are tempted and fall and rise; we make mistakes and fall short of many things. But it is this confession that becomes the shield that is impenetrable over our hearts and minds and souls. This confession transports us from being the children of the darkness to the children of the light. This confession brings about a re-birth of the soul. It is the key that opens every closed door we had before, and the torch that lights up every dark path we have to take, and the sword that fights off every evil that sets itself against us as we journey on back to our Father in his Kingdom. Peter’s answer was not just an answer. It was the way to eternal life.
Jesus is the Christ. He is the Messiah. Peter had confessed it. But Peter needed to know what it would cost Jesus to be the Christ, the Messiah— which is precisely why Jesus now began to explain to his disciples in this passage about God’s plan for the Christ.
Read verse 31. “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” To save us from our sins, Jesus was Chosen by God to be the Christ— our Christ. And God had a plan for the Christ. God willed that Jesus suffer many things. He willed that Jesus be rejected by the people and their priests. And God willed that Jesus be killed. God is Almighty! In other words, he can do anything. God could save ten million people with the flick of a finger. No one need suffer in the process. With a blink of his eye, God could get rid of sin from this world and purify this world from evil. Couldn’t he! But God the Father did not. We all should know the seriousness of sin. God would have us know that sin must be punished. He would have us know that our sins were not without consequences. Our sins drove us to become slaves to sin and to the devil. If we were to come out, then we must pay a high price to purchase our freedom, a price no one can afford.
So God put all this in his Son Jesus’ hands. God gave him a most difficult mission that would end up paying the price for all of our sins. How difficult it must have been for God who could simply destroy the world and be done with it, to give His Son such a mission. But God had to, because as powerful as he is, he is also just and righteous. He had to sacrifice his Son. People say that they know God. But most of them don’t know what they are talking about. To know God is to know his impossible and most painful sacrifice. And to know God, is also to know that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” So to know God is to know that God was willing to send his Son to die for “my sins.” If I do know what it cost God to redeem my soul from hell, I really don’t know God!
And God was not the only one who had to make such a terrible sacrifice. Jesus was faced with his Father’s will which was to suffer and die. He did not have to agree. He is the Son of God who could also wipe out the world with one word if he wanted to. He did not need to decide to die for anyone, especially since the whole creation was oblivious of their own demise. But Jesus was very willing to obey the will of his Father. Read verse 31. “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.” Jesus did not only decide to obey his Father’s will, he made it his own conviction as well. Do you know what that means? He didn’t say, “The Son of Man will suffer many things”, but he said, “The Son of Man ‘must’ suffer many things”. The words “I must” are Jesus’ own conviction of heart and the necessity of obeying God’s will. Jesus understood the urgency of his suffering. So he was not ready to suffer as a burden, but as a the necessary will of God. He fully understood that he must suffer. And not just one suffering, but that he “must many things” as the way of the Christ— as the way of Salvation of all people.
The word “must” is a powerful word. People of the world are also driven by it moment by moment. A “need” or “necessity” that drives their lives. “I must graduate soon and begin to make money and buy things for myself.” “I must get married before I get too old and no one finds me handsome anymore.” “I must work as many hours as I need to make enough money, even if my spiritual life suffers now and then.” “I must do what my heart tells me to do and not listen to advice.” “I must do what I think is right for me.” “I must get revenge.” “I must make other’s lives as miserable as my life is.” We can fill books. But all this comes from the sinful mind. People’s lives are driven by the “musts” or “convictions” of their hearts,. They are sometimes driven to accomplish something good, but for the most part, most of the “musts” are selfish and impose on others, and add more anguish to the heart of God. The selfish person says “I can’t do this because it is does not seem right to me— or I do not feel that I need to. I must do that other thing instead because as the saying goes, we must be true to my own convictions.” The selfish person says, “I won’t because it is not fair to me. I must resist.” But Jesus— Look at Jesus. Jesus was not selfish. He did not think of himself. He thought of us— of you and me. He thought of those who hated him. He thought of those who were going to die if he didn’t help them. He thought of God who was sacrificing too much to bring the gospel of life to a spiritually dead world. He thought of those who didn’t think of him. He thought of those who turned their backs on him even after he had done so much for them. He thought of others who didn’t know him yet, but who depended on him for their salvation. “must” was on Jesus’ heart always. He would suffer many things because it was a necessity to die for the sins of the world.
Jesus taught his disciples the way he would become the Christ, the “musts” that had become part of his life and mission. And he also wanted to plant the “truth” in their hearts— the truth that suffering is the only way to glory— the truth that sin is so costly that it would demand his suffering and death. Jesus also taught them that he would take his responsibility to heart because he loved them too much not to. That’s the heart of our Shepherd Jesus, who loved us toomuch not to do this! Jesus was sharing with his disciples his heart in order to help them see that the Christian life ahead was not going to be easy, but filled with hardship— hardships they too “must” embrace as he had done. Its’ the way Jesus would bring about their salvation and the salvation of all who believe in him. It’s the cost that Jesus would pay to be the “Christ”.
Read verses 32-33. When Jesus spoke of suffering, Peter was not impressed. Peter was not thinking about Jesus, he was thinking of himself. Maybe he thought that Jesus must kill his enemies, and not forgive them. He thought that Jesus must crush those who would hurt him and not love them. He thought that Jesus must not go down humbly, but stand up proudly against those who did him wrong. In other words, he was not thinking with the graceful and sacrificial heart and mind of God, but with the selfish and decadent mind of a person who can only think of himself and of his own comfort and needs rather than have God’s will burning in his heart. Peter was not ready for Jesus to suffer many things. But Jesus did not let the devil continue tempting his heart. He immediately rebuked him to let go of his human thinking and of his feelings and to embrace the mind of God. The mind of God is sacrificial, giving, loving, unselfish— even though the way of that is usually difficult. But difficult or not, God’s whose ways are always the ways to life and to blessing.
Read verses 34-38. After Jesus rebuked Peter, he turned to the crowd and to all who followed him. Jesus knew that Peter’s thinking was everyone’s thinking. So he called them together and gave them a teaching about what he expects of those who are his disciples. Jesus taught them that discipleship is a responsibility, an obligation. His death was not meant to free men from sin that they might simply go on with their lives and enjoy the rest of their days in worldly comfort. Jesus taught them that his death to free men from sin was not meant to give selfish people the freedom to carry on with their selfishness. Jesus taught his disciples that being a disciple carries with it a responsibility, a “must” also. They must deny themselves the desires of this world, and they must carry their cross as they follow him. It’s not easy to do this. It takes a commitment to Jesus. It takes a deep love for him and his work. Jesus wanted his disciples not to be ashamed to live by his words, even though his words sound strange to the people of the world. He did not want them to be ashamed to be like him— to be loving and forgiving and gentle and kind and humble. He wanted his disciples to overcome their selfish ideas about their lives, and consider what it takes and what it means to be a disciple. They were his disciples. He must suffer for them and for others who believe. But they must also learn to take on his life and purpose to bring life to the world. How can they do that if they have no “must” in their hearts. They need to accept that the life of a disciple is a life of following Jesus at any cost.
At any cost is not easy. A disciples is not only one who calls Jesus the Christ, but one whose heart is bound to Jesus in love and in commitment. He or she is not concerned to save their own skin, but to offer themselves so that another person might have a better life in Christ. We must not be ashamed of Jesus, nor of his gospel. Jesus forgave the unforgiven. He loved the unlovable. He served the unworthy. He was not ashamed to do so because he had a conviction that he “must” rescue us from sin. We must learn the way of discipleship and decide that by his grace which sustains me, “I too must deny my self, carry the cross, and follow Jesus.”