Hard Truths :: By Sean Gooding

Matthew Chapter 17: 22-23

Now while they were staying in Galilee, Jesus said to them, ‘The Son of Man is about to be betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him, and the third day He will be raised up.’ And they were exceedingly sorrowful.

We explored the idea of demon possession last week, and I tell you that this topic has come up more often this week than I can count.  Hollywood and the like have tried to put on some TV shows over the past year in particular that seem to make evil seem good.  One particular show is called “Lucifer.” Yes, you read it correctly.  Basically, in this series, Lucifer is bored and takes a break from Hell to come to earth.  He is handsome and charming, and he is helping solve crimes.

The Antichrist will be charming, helpful and appear to solve some of man’s problems.  In doing so, he will win the admiration of the whole world and be given more and more power.  Be careful of dealing with evil; it appears to be benign and controllable until one day you wake up and you are the puppet.  Thankfully, Jesus is still the God who made and will condemn the evil spirits.  Call out to Him; humble yourself, and the devil will have to move out.

Today we will look at two short verses that remind us that Jesus often warned His followers what was coming.  He never sugar-coated what it was He was here to do.  Sadly, they just could not see the truth of why Jesus came the first time.  They were kingdom-minded and simply wanted to be out from under the rule of the Romans.

How many of us are blind the same way today?  We know that Jesus is coming; He has told us over and over that He is coming again. The signs are here but we just go on as if this truth is a truth for someone else.

The Hard Truth, verses 22-23

Jesus was not one to pull punches when He spoke to His followers.  He wanted them to be fully aware of what was going on.  He made sure that He warned them over and over that He was going to be tortured, killed and then raised from the dead.  In John 2:19, we could excuse them since Jesus used the metaphor of the Temple to speak about His coming death, burial and resurrection:

Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.’”

But we find in this exchange in John 2, very early in His earthly ministry, that Jesus began to warn His followers that He was coming to die.  He was not about to release Israel from the grip of the Roman Empire; that would be thousands of years later.  By the time we get nearer to the end, as we see in Matthew 16:21, Jesus is just laying it on the line:

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.

To us this seems to be plain and simple.  How much more clearly could Jesus have explained it unless He had walked with a cross on His shoulders for the whole 3 years of His ministry?  In Luke 9:22, we find these words from Jesus:

saying, ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.’”

In Mark 9: 30-32 They left that place and passed through Galilee. Jesus did not want anyone to know where they were, because he was teaching his disciples. He said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and after three days he will rise.’ But they did not understand what he meant and were afraid to ask him about it.

We see at the end of this set of verses that they did not understand, but they were afraid to ask Him about it.  In John 2:22, we see that they only began to figure it out after the resurrection had taken place.  In reference to after the resurrection, we find the amazing account of two of Jesus’ regular disciples who had travelled with Him for some time, meeting Him after the resurrection and still not recognizing Him.  We find this account in Luke 24: 17-27,

Now behold, two of them were traveling that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was seven miles from Jerusalem. And they talked together of all these things which had happened. So it was, while they conversed and reasoned, that Jesus Himself drew near and went with them.  But their eyes were restrained, so that they did not know Him.

“And He said to them, ‘What kind of conversation is this that you have with one another as you walk and are sad?’ Then the one whose name was Cleopas answered and said to Him, ‘Are You the only stranger in Jerusalem, and have You not known the things which happened there in these days?’

“And He said to them, ‘What things?’ So they said to Him, ‘The things concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a Prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him. But we were hoping that it was He who was going to redeem Israel.

“Indeed, besides all this, today is the third day since these things happened. Yes, and certain women of our company, who arrived at the tomb early, astonished us. When they did not find His body, they came saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said He was alive. And certain of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but Him they did not see.’

“Then He said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?’ And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.

Notice that we are told in verse 17 that these were ‘two of them.’  Who?  Jesus’ followers.  Two of them still had the kingdom of Israel mindset. See verse 21: ‘we were hoping that it was He was going to redeem Israel.’  They even admitted that some of the women had already testified about the empty grave, and yet still they doubted and were sad, as Jesus described them as ‘sad.’

These people were defeated and unable to comprehend all that had taken place.  They were hoping for a new Israel, and now they had the testimony of a few women how that the tomb was empty.

So Jesus began at the book of Genesis and told them all that was about Him.  The entire OT is about Him.  Jesus called them ‘slow of heart to believe,’ (see verse 25).  But these men had seen Jesus raise the dead, heal the sick, and cast out demons; and still they doubted.

In verses 28 and in that passage from Luke, we see that Jesus does something that they often saw Him do; He prayed before eating and then broke the bread and gave to them.  Then their eyes were opened, the Bible tells us.  We don’t know what got their attention.  Was it the nail prints in His hands?  Was it the particular way that He prayed?  Was it the way He broke the bread?

Whatever it was, they finally saw the risen Saviour; and immediately they went to tell the 11 that they had seen the risen Jesus.

Judgment is coming to us; 2 Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 20: 11-15

There were other warnings that Jesus gave to us as well.  The most obvious is that He would be coming again and, in particular, that this coming would entail judgment.  We find comfort in the promise of His return. Many church people gladly and loudly quote John 14:3,

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

We look forward to this, but, sadly there are many in the Lord’s churches today that refuse to realize that Jesus is coming again.  They refuse to acknowledge that certain absolute signs of His return are in place like the resurrection of the nation of Israel to her homeland with Jerusalem as her capital city.  Just this alone is a great reminder of God’s promises and power.

Everyone is excited to get their ‘mansion.’  And, man, do we make a big show about getting mansions; but not a lot of people understand that there is a judgment of the righteous first that must take place.

In 1 Corinthians 3: 11-13, we find this dire warning from the apostle Paul:

For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.

Did you get that? It says ‘each man’s work’ (verse 13) will be judged by fire.  This is not a salvation issue; only saved people are at this judgment.  We are warned that judgment will begin with the house of God first in 1 Peter 4:17.  Over and over, Jesus made this clear to us in His earthly ministry.

Read the parable of the Minas in Luke 19: 11-27, or the parable of the Talents in Matthew 25: 14-30.  In each of these, a man travels into a far country to receive a kingdom and leaves his servants to do his business until he returns.  Does that sound familiar?  He then returns to judge the work of those entrusted with his business.  Each one has to come before the master and give an account of how he did the master’s business.

Folks, we are the servants, Jesus is the master, and we will give an account to Him.

Like the disciples, some of us seem blind to this fact.  We carry on with the cares and pleasures of this world with no regard for the work of the NT church or the kingdom that we are responsible for.  We act as if Jesus will not return and make us give an account.

Some will say, well I am saved and that is all I care about.  Well, maybe, just maybe, you need to check that.  Just about everyone who received Jesus as Savior in the NT went out and told someone what He did for them.  Today we have so many tools for witnessing that one can certainly find a way to get the Word out.  But make no mistake; you will be judged on how you lived your life after you were saved.  Jesus made that very clear; and, just like the disciples, we seem to be blind to that.

The other judgment that we are warned about is for the people who reject Jesus.  In the parable of the Minas in Luke 19, some of the people make this statement, in verse 11, after the master leaves and heads to a far country:

But his citizens hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We will not have this man to reign over us.’”

They decided that they did not want this master to rule over them.  This did not change the fact that he was the master.  Kind of like when your teenage kids tell you they hate you, or when rebellious citizens in modern countries think they can decide that they will not obey the government.  That does not change the facts; Jesus is Lord of all, parents rule children, and the government does not really care about your opinion except once every 4-5 years or so, depending on where you live.

This was the answer to the rebellious citizens from the master, in verse 27:

But bring here those enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, and slay them before me.

They were judged harshly.  Well, those who reject Jesus as Savior will also be judged harshly. See Revelation 20: 11-15,

Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.

“And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

So we have been warned.  Judgment is coming.  What will you do with Jesus?

Repent of your sins today, accept His loving and gracious gift of His life for yours on the cross, rejoice in the power of His resurrection and trust Him as your Savior.  For those of us who have trusted Him, we will be judged by Jesus.  This is an indisputable truth.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.