Jesus knew he had to undergo great suffering. Jesus knew he had to be killed. Jesus knew that on the third day he would be raised.
How would I live knowing this would be my fate? How would I live knowing that I will undergo great suffering and die at the hands of the religious ruling class? Would I walk down a path that had been laid out for me knowing that the path would lead to being given over to be judged by the very same men I was meant to save?
In the back of the disciple's minds, from the time they joined Jesus in his ministry, they must have been wondering, "Is Jesus the one? Is Jesus the Messiah? Is he the one promised by the Living God to restore our people?" When Peter confirms that yes they have discovered what their Father in heaven has revealed to them that Jesus is indeed the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, Jesus goes on to the next teaching. Now that they know who he is, they must now know where he must go and what he must do.
This must have rocked them to their core. Jesus is the one. Jesus is the Messiah. Jesus is the Son of the Living God. Jesus has come to restore our people. What?!? He's going to undergo great suffering? He's going to be killed? This is not what happens to our Messiah. He's supposed to go to Jerusalem and restore the kingdom of Israel. We will be his royal court as Jesus establishes his rule over the earth. Surely, Jesus is testing us somehow? This makes no sense.
Our older brother Paul once wrote, "...we walk by faith, not by sight." In other words, we follow a path that was not of our design, but the design of the one we put our confidence and hope. This means we do not know where the path leads because we have never been there. Paul often uses walking to describe the Christian life. It really is a journey. When we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God, we begin a journey on a path not built by our hands into strange lands we have never laid eyes upon.
Even though we have never laid eyes on the path, Jesus tells us that it is not a path of nomads. We will not wander aimlessly. This path leads home. This path leads to our Father in heaven. Jesus reveals that way for us. All of us were born into, raised among and living in a world of futility, suffering, darkness and death. None of us have seen absolute meaning, joy, light and life. How can we get to a place we have never been and don't know where it is?
That's why Jesus was sent. He came to show us the way from death to life. And that means we follow him. We are to walk down the same path he has walked. We will see this healer be beaten. We will see this teacher be mocked. We will see this exorcist be cursed. We will see this one who raises people from the dead be killed.
How? Why? Because that is the way of where we live. What do we expect when we reject the one who gives life? Can we expect anything less than death? What do we expect when we reject the one who is light? Should we expect anything other than darkness?
If we want to move from a place of death to our home of life, we need to follow our Messiah and not lose sight of where he is going. We must not lose heart when our neighbours feel rejected that we are moving away. Hopefully, we can convince them to move with us. But some will not be convinced. Some do not see Jesus as the Way or our Father in Heaven as loving, but see them both as something other than who they have revealed themselves to be.
Instead, they will react with their heart language. They will hate us. They will mock us. They will beat us. They will do whatever it takes to show what a mistake we are making even if that means killing us. They did that to Jesus. What did he do to deserve his execution at the hands of Jewish and Roman authorities? If they did that to our Lord, what will they do to his servants? But even if our wildest dreams come true in rejecting the Kingdom of God, even if we become the ruler of this world of death and suffering, what have we gained?
But, no man is the giver of life, our Father in heaven gives life. It must be His way, not our way. He is the author of life. He is the creator of life. He is love. He is light. If we cannot be with Him, where else should we go?
Hear the words of our older brother Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church:
"For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling—if indeed, when we have taken it off we will not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always confident; even though we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord—for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we do have confidence, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil.
Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we ourselves are well known to God, and I hope that we are also well known to your consciences. We are not commending ourselves to you again, but giving you an opportunity to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast in outward appearance and not in the heart. For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,
“At an acceptable time I have listened to you,
and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”
See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything."