These are my notes from a sermon series. It has not been proofed for spelling or grammatical errors. I present it to you as-is.
When does good news not sound like good news? When you don’t understand it. Most of us understand that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news! We know that the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ had to happen and we know why it had to happen. It is good news for those who are aware of their sin, need forgiveness, and know that without God’s grace through Jesus they would not be allowed into heaven.
However, good news is not good news if you don’t understand it or believe it. This is what happens with the disciples. Jesus takes them deeper into His mission and purpose which sounds terrible at first, but in reality is a part of the good news that Jesus is bringing. They didn’t understand it.
Let’s review a little bit.
- Jesus has taken the disciples on an incredible journey. They have grown so much, but need to grow a lot more. Jesus asked them, “Who do you say I am?” Peter, speaking on behalf the disciples, said, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Mark 8:29; Matt. 16:16). Their answer identified Jesus as both God and man. They were telling Jesus that they believed He was God in the flesh, God incarnate, God with us.
- Jesus was delighted with this. Jesus said to Peter, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being” (Matt. 16:17, NLT). This was a divine revelation. They finally got it. The eyes of their hearts were opened. They were now seeing Jesus for who He truly is. Jesus is the one promised in the Old Testament. God has sent His Son and Jesus is the Messiah. He is the one who will rescue and deliver. They were excited and pumped because of what they had discovered. This is incredible news.
- Instead of turning them loose and letting them tell everyone who Jesus was, Jesus “warned them not to tell anyone about him” (Mark 8:30). It is true that Jesus is the Messiah. It is true that Jesus is the son of the living God. It is true that Jesus is God incarnate and God has come to dwell among us. It is true that Jesus came to rescue and deliver us. The disciples understood who Jesus was, they didn’t understand what He really came to do and how He would do it. The Good News story was not finished yet. So Jesus told them to wait. The disciples believe Jesus was the Messiah who would deliver them from their earthly oppressors, make life easier, have an earthly kingdom, and become the king of Israel in Jerusalem with a great throne and over take the Roman empire. Yet, Jesus didn’t come to do that. He came to deliver His people from their sins, give them eternal life, and bring them into the kingdom of God. His kingdom would be in their hearts. His kingdom was a spiritual kingdom, not an earthly kingdom. So Jesus “warned them not to tell anyone about him.” They didn’t have the full story on the Good News yet.
The picture was becoming more clear, but it was still very foggy to them. The last thing the disciples expected to hear on the heels of this grand moment of revelation and clarity was a death announcement from Jesus. This is where we pick up the story.
Mark 8:31 says, Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things and be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but three days later he would rise from the dead. 32 As he talked about this openly with his disciples, Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things. 33 Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter. “Get away from me, Satan!” he said. “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s” (NLT).[i] From this we learn some things about Jesus and the gospel that every believer needs to know.
The Suffering of Jesus
The first thing we see deals with the sufferings of Jesus. Mark says in verse 31, “Then Jesus began to tell them that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things….” Let’s break this down.
- Jesus “began to tell them” and teach them marks the beginning of this radical new subject about the Messiah. The phrase “began to tell” (didasko)[ii] indicates the continuation of the instruction. Over the next few months Jesus would come back to this subject of His suffering and His cross He would have to endure. To the disciples this was something that even in their wildest imaginations would never occur. Even though they believed Jesus was the Messiah they still didn’t understand His mission and how He was going to accomplish it. They still saw Him as an earthly Messiah, not a spiritual one.[iii]
- Jesus went on to explain “that the Son of Man must suffer many terrible things.” This title “Son of Man” refers to both the humanity of Jesus (Phil. 2:6-8; Heb. 2:17) and the authority of Jesus (Dan. 7:13; Acts 7:56) that God had given Him to die for humankind. This is the title Jesus used most often of Himself.
- But notice carefully Jesus said that He “must”[iv] suffer many terrible things. Jesus is indicating that the torments He would endure were an unchangeable part of the Father’s purpose for Him. This was a preplanned event that Jesus knew He would have to accomplish. Peter did not understand that now, but He would later. In Acts 2 Peter was preaching to a crowd and said, “But God knew what would happen, and his prearranged plan was carried out when Jesus was betrayed. With the help of lawless Gentiles, you nailed him to a cross and killed him.24 But God released him from the horrors of death and raised him back to life, for death could not keep him in its grip” (Acts 2:23, NLT). The cross of Jesus would be no accident. This is not God making the best of a bad situation. This is God sovereignly arranging the events of humanity in order for Jesus to go to the cross and die for our sins. This “must”
- Jesus says that He must “suffer many terrible things.” These “many terrible things” refers not only to the cross, but also the many terrible things leading up to the cross – the betrayal of Judas, the unfair arrest, the unfair trials, the mocking, the beatings, the whippings, His beard being plucked out, and the crown of thorns to name a few.
Jesus was giving them a heads up on what was going to happen and type of suffering He would endure.
The Rejection of Jesus
Number two, we also see the rejection of Jesus. Not only did Jesus tell them about His sufferings to come, but Jesus also told them about the rejection that was to come. Mark goes on to say in verse 31 that the Son of Man must “be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law.” Jesus specifically mentioned three groups who would reject Him.
- The first group were “the elders.” These were religious leaders in the community. They were wealthy, powerful, and influential.
- The second group were “the leading priests.” They supervised the temple and the sacrificial system.
- The third group were “the teachers of religious law.” These were the approved interpreters of the Old Testament, and they were mostly Pharisees. They were the theologians and lawyers of Judaism who were experts in Israel’s religious laws.
Together, these three groups made up the powerful Sanhedrin and formed a united front as opponents of Jesus. This group in one form or another has been watching and testing Jesus to determine whether He was the Messiah, they were not convinced. In spite of all His miracles and teachings they were not looking for a Messiah who taught love and forgiveness, but one who would usher in a military might to overthrow the Roman Empire and establish Israel’s kingdom. Jesus did not fit their mold of a Messiah, so they “rejected”[v] Him. Peter would refer back to this when he would write in 1 Peter 2:7 about “the stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone” (NLT).
Jesus is still rejected today. I get it, people have a hard time seeing that salvation comes from someone who lived 2000 years ago and died on a cross for their sin and rose from the dead three days later to conquer death and sin. He might not be the Savior you are looking for, but He is the only Savior you have. This will take faith, not logic. This will require belief and trust in what God says in His Word. The Sanhedrin, they would reject this truth, but the disciples would receive it.
The Death of Jesus
Number three, we see the death of Jesus. Jesus then drops a bomb on the disciples when He said the Son of Man “would be killed.” At this time, Jesus has not told them how He would die nor has He explained the profound significance of His death. However, John the Baptist saw the purpose of His death way before anyone else. John said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29, NLT). If the disciples were aware of John’s statement then they knew about sacrificial lambs and they knew that they provided atonement only by shedding their blood. They simply failed to put the pieces of the puzzle together.
Let me share a couple of thoughts about Jesus and His death.
- 1 Corinthians 15:3 says, “Christ died for our sins, just as the Scriptures said” (NLT). He was able to take away the sin because He died for the sin. Jesus paid the price for your sin so that you could have eternal life in Him.
- 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “He died for everyone so that those who receive his new life will no longer live for themselves. Instead, they will live for Christ, who died and was raised for them” (NLT). His death propels you into a generous and loving life. One of the impacts of the Lord’s death on a believer is they become less selfish and less self-focused.
Jesus told His disciples that He would die.
The Resurrection of Jesus
Number four, we see the resurrection of Jesus. At the end of verse 31, Mark points out that even though the Son of Man would be crucified and killed “three days later he would rise from the dead.” Jesus clearly and plainly predicts His resurrection from the dead. That statement seemed to have left no impression on the disciples based on their response. It’s like they heard the suffering and death part, but tuned out at the resurrection part.
To the disciples, what seemed to be the ultimate bad news was in reality the best news the world has ever received. It was the very heart of the gospel. By dying and rising again, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would pay the penalty for sin and conquer death, so that all who believe in Him might have eternal life (John 3:16; 6:40; Rom. 10:9-10; 2 Cor. 5:20-21; 1 Tim. 1:15).
Mark adds that Jesus “talked about this openly with his disciples.” This was not a onetime conversation. This was an ongoing conversation where Jesus plainly and openly described His suffering, rejection, death, and resurrection. The word “openly” (parrhesia) means with frankness, to the point, clearly, plainly, and fearlessly. Up to this point Jesus would only hint at His death and resurrection. Jesus has mentioned this several times throughout His ministry. Let me give you some examples.[vi]
- About two years earlier Jesus did something radical. Listen to John 2:13, “It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration, so Jesus went to Jerusalem.14 In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. 15 Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. 16 Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” 17 Then his disciples remembered this prophecy from the Scriptures: “Passion for God’s house will consume me.” 18 But the Jewish leaders demanded, “What are you doing? If God gave you authority to do this, show us a miraculous sign to prove it.” 19 “All right,” Jesus replied. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 “What!” they exclaimed. “It has taken forty-six years to build this Temple, and you can rebuild it in three days?” 21 But when Jesus said “this temple,” he meant his own body. 22 After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this, and they believed both the Scriptures and what Jesus had said.” (NLT) That was a hint and foreshadow of what was to come.
- Later Jesus would have another confrontation with the religious leaders. They came to Jesus demanding a sign that would prove His authority to say and do what He was saying and doing. Jesus replied in Matthew 12:39, “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah.40 For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights” (Matthew 12:39-40, NLT). Jesus is referring to His resurrection.
Jesus would often say these kinds of things about His death or resurrection. The disciples heard them, but did not understand them. These statements were vague and only hints and mysterious and confusing to the disciples. But now, Jesus was dropping the vague hints and was telling them “openly” and plainly. He was concealing nothing. He laid it all out on the table. He was giving a detailed outline of the end.
The Reprimand of Jesus
This takes us to the reprimand of Jesus. After hearing what Jesus had told them, they were appalled, but they kept their silence – all except one who spoke on behalf of the disciples. Mark says in verse 32, “Peter took him aside and began to reprimand him for saying such things.”
- We are told that “Peter took him aside” (proslambano). This means that Peter took physical hold of Jesus and led him aside in order to have a face to face conversation. It’s like Peter put his hand on Jesus back or around His shoulder and guided Him a few steps away from everyone in order to give Him some needed advice. Obviously, Jesus needed to have His thinking corrected (so Peter thought).
- So Peter led Jesus aside “and began to reprimand him for sayings such things.” The word “reprimand” (epitimao) is the same term Jesus used to silence a demon possessed man (1:25), to calm a raging storm (4:39), and to warn His disciples not to tell anyone His identity (8:30). The language here suggests that Peter did this with a type of parental authority, like a father correcting a son.[vii]
Peter is still missing a major point about Jesus. The whole idea of Jesus being killed is not an option. It’s like Peter and the disciples heard only part of the lesson. He does not understand that Isaiah 53 had prophesied the Messiah would suffer and die for the sins of mankind.[viii] Peter still did not understand the Lord’s purpose. Jesus would clarify this even further later in Mark 10:45 when He says, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many” (NLT). Peter correctly identified Jesus as the Messiah and loved Jesus and was committed to follow Him, however Peter did understand nor accept the Lord’s method of operation.
This reminds me of many of us. We love Jesus but we reject or ignore God’s method of operation. We say, “God you are all-knowing, all-present, all-powerful, and perfectly holy and wise. You are awesome and I love you. However, let me tell you what you need to do and how to do it. I’ve got a great plan on how You should accomplish Your mission.” When we approach God like this, we become a hindrance and obstacle to the plan of God. Let’s declare Who He is without dictating what He must do.
The Reprimand by Jesus
Finally, we come to the reprimand by Jesus in verse 33, “Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples, then reprimanded Peter.”
- Peter reprimands and rebukes Jesus for what He said about Him having to suffer and being put to death. Jesus lets Peter finish and then “Jesus turned around and looked at his disciples….” Ironically, the term “disciples” means learner, and Jesus was about to teach the disciples a valuable lesson. They were about to learn something. Jesus “looked at his disciples” because He was speaking to them in addition to speaking to Peter. The Lord’s rebuke was for all of them.[ix]
- Jesus says to Peter, “Get away from me, Satan!” This does not mean that Peter was being possessed by the devil, but that Peter was only being used by the devil. Unknowingly, Peter was repeating Satan’s message. Earlier in Jesus’ ministry, Jesus and Satan had a one on one confrontation in the wilderness (Matt. 4:1-11). In that confrontation, Satan offered to give Jesus the world if He avoided the cross and adopted Satan’s plan. He ultimately told Satan to get out of His way (Matt. 4:10). At the end of this confrontation the Bible says in Luke 4:13, “When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came” (NLT). The devil was continually looking for ways to tempt Jesus away from the Father’s plan. Peter’s reprimand was another one of those opportunities. Knowing that the cross would spell his downfall and defeat, Satan tried vigorously to derail God’s plan of redemption (Gen. 3:15; John 12:31; Col. 2:14-15; Heb. 2:14). The devil was trying to use Peter to guide Jesus away from the Heavenly Father’s perfect will.
Let me make an observation here. Peter’s advice was to take the more easy and comfortable road in life. He was well meaning. From Peter’s perspective he wanted the best for Jesus. He cared about Jesus. He loved Jesus. He wanted Jesus to succeed. Listen carefully, the temptation for all of us when giving someone advice is to care more about their comfort than their character. When we strictly give advice based on what makes someone happy rather than holy, we are giving the devil’s advice. When your advice to someone starts out with what will make them happy, you are beginning at the wrong point. What is right? What is God’s will? What does the Father want you to do? That’s the question you are to answer. Peter was giving advice that the devil would give, not a godly man.
This is why Jesus says, “You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.” Jesus is saying, “Peter, you are thinking temporarily. You are thinking to earthly. There is more to this life that what you currently see and feel. It would be easier to do it your way. It would be more comfortable. There would be immediate happiness. People would be excited. But there is something bigger and eternal at stake here. We can have temporary happiness or we can have eternal joy. For eternal joy to occur I will have to suffering temporarily. I have a cross to bear, but once I’m through carrying that cross then there will be much glory and joy. You need to see what’s going on here from an eternal perspective.”
When does good news not sound like good news? When you don’t understand it. When you are sharing the gospel it will not make since to many people. You will have the Sanhedrin people who will never get it, but you will have some who by God’s grace will receive it by faith and thank God for it.
The disciples are learning. They are close. They are getting there. From their perspective the worst is about to happen, but at the same time it’s the best thing that has ever happened.
[i] Now that they had confessed their faith in Christ, the disciples were ready for the “secret” Jesus wanted to share with them: He was going with them to Jerusalem where He would die on a cross. From this point on, Mark will focus on their journey to Jerusalem and the emphasis will be on Jesus’ approaching death and resurrection (Mark 9:30-32; 10:32-34).
[ii] “Began to tell” (didasko) is often translated “teach” and is in the present tense indicating the continuation of the instruction. This would be the first of several times He would tell them about the cross (cf. Matt. 17:9; 12, 22-23; Mark 9:31; 10:33, 45; John 12:7).
[iii] When Matthew describes this event he says, “From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly” about His suffering and the cross, this indicates that the disciples were ready for more information. Until they understood that Jesus was the Messiah and God incarnate the death, burial, and resurrection would make no sense. They must understand that Jesus was the Messiah, before they could understand He was their Savior. Their confession of Jesus as the Messiah was an indication that it was a good time to begin to expand their teaching.
[iv] “Must” (dei rom deo = to bind or tie objects together, put in prison and also root of doulos, bond-servant) refers to what is not optional but needful (binding) out of intrinsic necessity or inevitability. Dei refers to inward constraint which is why it is often translated “must“. Dei describes that which is under the necessity of happening or which must necessarily take place, and as stated above, conveys a sense of inevitability. To express the sense of necessity dei is translated “one ought”, “one should”, “one has to” or “one must”. Uses in Mark – Mk. 8:31; Mk. 9:11; Mk. 13:7; Mk. 13:10; Mk. 13:14;
[v] “Rejected” – apodokimazo from apo = off, away from, pictures separation of one thing from another + dokimazo = to test, examine, scrutinize to see whether a thing is genuine or not) means “to put a person to the test for the purpose of approving him should he meet the specifications laid down.” Thus the idea was to reject or refuse to accept something or someone after testing, scrutiny or examination. The preposition apo– speaks of separation and thus conveys the picture of rejecting completely. It means to examine and deem as useless. It means to judge something or someone as not being fit, worthy or genuine and thus something or someone to be rejected. It means to throw out as the result of a test, to put out of office, to repudiate, to disapprove or to declare useless. Eight of the nine NT uses of apodokimazo refer to men’s (primarily Israel and her leaders who should have known better) rejection of the Messiah as genuine, worthy, qualified! All NT uses = Matt. 21:42; Mk. 8:31; Mk. 12:10; Lk. 9:22; Lk. 17:25; Lk. 20:17; Heb. 12:17; 1 Pet. 2:4; 1 Pet. 2:7
[vi] Another example of Jesus vague allusions to His death was in Mark 2:20 where Jesus said, “Someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Other examples include: (1) His statement to the Jews at the first Passover, John 2:19; (2) His words to Nicodemus in John 3:14; (3) His remark about the bridegroom’s being taken away, Matt. 9:15, Mark 2:20; (4) His words about giving His flesh for the life of the world in John 6:51; (5) His reference to the sign of Jonah, Matt. 16:4.
[vii] This reminds me of a parent who says something like this, “Jesus, those are bad words you just said. Go wash your mouth out with soap. I don’t want to hear that come from you again. Now, go over to the disciples and apologize for hurting their feelings.”
[ix] Note, however, that when Jesus rebuked Peter, He also “looked on His disciples,” because they agreed with Peter’s assessment of the situation! Steeped in Jewish traditional interpretation, they were unable to understand how their Messiah could ever suffer and die. To be sure, some of the prophets had written about Messiah’s sufferings, but much more ha been written about Messiah’s glory. Some of the rabbis even thought that there would two Messiah, one who would suffer and one who would reign (see 1 Peter 1:10-12). No wonder the disciple sere confused.