“From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Matthew 16:21
Today is Good Friday. It’s a somber day where we focus on the death of Jesus on the cross. We aren’t necessarily thinking about a resurrection. Our pastor told us this past Sunday that many of us will celebrate Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (which we call Palm Sunday), and then we will come back the next Sunday and celebrate His resurrection. We like to only think of and celebrate the good things that happened to Jesus. But in doing that, we will forget some of the very important parts to the story of His resurrection. He told us we do not need to skip over the other events that take place during this week (which is known as Holy Week). We need to remember.
In Matthew 16:21-28, Jesus is explaining to His disciples all that will happen to Him. First, let me say what a blessing this is to these men. Jesus is giving them a heads up. There’s going to be no surprises. Jesus isn’t going to all of a sudden die without any explanation. No, he’s telling the disciples, his friends, exactly what will happen.
And guess what?
They freaked out! They didn’t want to hear any of that!
They began to shout and yell and tell Jesus He was crazy (well, not exactly in those words), but they were pretty adamant that this wasn’t going to happen. Peter was the one who began yelling. Verse 22 of Matthew 16 says: “Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. ‘Never, Lord!’, he said. ‘This shall never happen to you.'”
Now let’s stop here for just a minute.
Who would ever have the boldness to rebuke the Lord…to His face! That would be Peter. I guess Peter was so upset that He basically told Jesus that this wasn’t going to happen. No way. Not on his watch. Nobody is going to kill the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.
And what does Jesus have to do? Rebuke Peter! He calls Him Satan! Yikes!
“Jesus turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.'” Matthew 16:23
I am sure Peter slumped back in his chair after that one…embarrassed, feeling guilty for having gotten so upset about Jesus promising that He would die. Peter had heart. He loved Jesus deeply…to the point of blowing up at the mere mention of Jesus dying. Peter didn’t even want to talk about it.
Aren’t we like Peter? We like to gloss over Good Friday. Let’s not even think about or mention His death on the cross. It’s too sad. It pains us to even think about it. It grieves us to know that Jesus willingly gave up His life for us. I know I am one who does this. I don’t like thinking about Jesus’ death and how they whipped, beat, and tortured Him. It breaks my heart. He didn’t deserve to die. He did nothing wrong. No one should have even laid on hand on Him. His death was not fair!
But friends, Jesus had to die.
He was born on this earth, knowing that He would die to save everyone. It was part of the plan…from the beginning (John 1:1-5). We need to be mindful of this day. We need to grieve on this day. This day plays a huge part in Holy Week. We don’t need to skip it. We need to remember it. Because it’s only then that we can truly be grateful for His death, giving thanks to God for sending His Son to be our sacrifice and allow us to live eternally.
Mark 15:33-34, 37 says, “At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachtani?’ (which means ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?)’…With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!'”
Wherever you are today at 3:00 pm (Jesus’ time of death), stop what you are doing and remember the death of Jesus. You could not live in heaven with Him if it were not for the sacrifice He made.
Prayer: Eternal God, we know it grieved You to see Your Son die this way. But, we know there was no other way. Thank You for this sacrifice. Thank You for loving us so much and sending us Jesus to save us. Help us to focus on His death today and be reminded of the sacrifice He made. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
- What does Jesus’ death mean to you?
- How can you make sure to share the message of Easter with others?