I’ve been finding myself reading through Matthew’s account of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and as we approach Resurrection Sunday my attention has been particularly focused on those things which Jesus taught His disciples regarding His suffering, death, and resurrection. Three times He predicted for them the upcoming events, and each time the disciples reacted a little differently than the last. The interesting thing is their reactions are quite similar to some of the common reactions today.
The first time He tells them what will happen is found in Matt.16.21. Peter is there and the Bible says he took Him to the side and rebuked Him saying, “Oh no, Lord! This will never happen to You!” Peter denies the possibility of a crucified, resurrected Jesus. He sees Jesus as a good man, who is sure to be the long-awaited conquering hero for the people of Israel. There is no room in his idea of Jesus for a suffering Savior who comes back from the dead. Peter’s reaction is much like those today who either deny the historicity of the events leading up to and including Jesus’ death and resurrection, or who create their own idea of Jesus that puts little emphasis on His atoning death and resurrection and instead focuses on His teachings of love and acceptance.
The second time Jesus predicts these events is found in Matt.17.22. Here the Bible simply says about the disciples “And they were deeply distressed.” What Jesus was saying was starting to make them feel uncomfortable. They liked it better when He was teaching, healing, and feeding people. This talk of death and resurrection was a bit much, and it was making them feel uneasy. Their reaction is similar to those today who avoid altogether the idea of a resurrected Jesus. If Jesus really did rise from the dead then it means there are things in the world which do not conform to natural law. It means Jesus was certainly more than a good teacher who did good things for the poor and needy. It means we must give equal authority to those things which He said regarding sin, repentance, salvation, and everlasting life, and that makes many people uncomfortable.
The third and final prediction Jesus provides comes in Matt.20.18-19. Immediately after this prediction James and John come to Jesus looking for positions of prestige. They seem to ignore the reality of what Jesus is saying and instead focus on what they might personally gain from their relationship with Him. Jesus rebukes them and reminds them that He did not come to be served but to serve. James and John remind me of those who forget that Jesus’ suffering and resurrection is not just their personal golden ticket to Heaven, but rather is the means by which every man, woman, boy, and girl is able to be rescued from sin and death. These are those who neglect to share the good news of the gospel once their own salvation is secure. Much like James and John they miss the joy of being last because they are so busy taking care of “Number one.”
It’s clear the disciples misunderstood what Jesus was telling them, but we, standing on this side of those events, are sometimes as equally apt to misunderstand the magnitude of love and grace found in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is more than a story we re-tell each spring. It is more than a reason to buy a new dress, and it is more than a reason to sing some new songs. It is nothing short of the greatest sacrifice mankind has ever known followed by the greatest miracle to have ever occurred, and it is too wonderful to keep to ourselves. This season, as we once again consider the events of that weekend, our reaction should include some form of joyful gratitude—anything less would be missing the point of this incomparable act of love.
NEWS AND NOTES:
April 14th is Good Friday and we want to invite you to reflect on the events leading up to and including Jesus’ crucifixion and death in our special “Worship at the Cross” service. “Worship at the Cross” will begin with communion and will utilize music, narration, and visuals to provide a fitting atmosphere to consider the sacrifice of our Savior. Plan to join us Good Friday evening. We will assemble outside the worship center and will enter the worship space together at 7:00.
Part of worship includes the study of God’s Word and on Friday evening, April 28th at 6:00 we hope to provide you and your family and friends a unique opportunity to do just that as we simulcast David Platt’s “Secret Church.” This is an intensive 6 hour study which will focus on Scripture and authority in an age of skepticism. The cost is only $5 and will include study materials for you to keep. You can sign up to participate at the connection center or online at our website.
Sunday, April 30th will mark our third annual Preschool Sunday and Family Fun Day at Wheels Fun Park. Our morning service will feature music from our preschoolers as we host them and their families, and afterwards we will all assemble together at Wheel’s Fun Park for an afternoon of fun. Sign up in the connection center and see Nick Decker for more details.
Thank you all for the opportunity to serve you and lead you in worship.
In His Service,