Matthew 17:22-23 says, “When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.’ And the disciples were filled with grief.”
Did you hear that? Did you catch the disciples’ reaction to Jesus’ statement concerning the future? They “were filled with grief.”
The broader context is this: several of the disciples had just recently been with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration – we believe this was on Mt. Hermon, the tallest peak in Palestine in northern Galilee. After coming off this mountain top experience, they were confronted with a demon possessed child whom Jesus healed.
Then it says when they had come together – presumably with the rest of the disciples – in Galilee, Jesus began to explain to them what was to come, what must happen – that He would go to Jerusalem, that He would be betrayed, killed, and raised to life. And they were filled with grief.
They didn’t get it, did they? And they still didn’t get it on Palm Sunday. They shouted “Hosanna!” and they laid down palms as He made a “triumphal entry” into Jerusalem. They wanted a king. They were hoping for another David, another Solomon – a king to free them from political and economic oppression from the weight of Rome, from the powers of this world.
Jesus knew they needed freedom – but He also knew they needed freedom from a much greater power than Rome. They needed – and we still need today – freedom from the power of Satan and sin.
And so many people today still don’t get it. They come to Jesus hoping for freedom from economic problems or employment problems or family problems – things “out there” around them. But the real problem they have – and the real problem we all have – is not “out there” it’s “in here.”
Do you have a Rome out there from which you need freedom ? I hope on this Good Friday that you will see your real need is “in here.” No matter what the world and its powers have done to you, no matter what people have done to you, the reason Jesus came to die was for your problem – your sin.
After His death, the disciples still didn’t get it. A couple of them told the risen Christ “we had hoped that He was the one who was going to redeem Israel.” Their statement, in the past perfect (“we had hoped”) betrayed that their hope was futile and had vanished. But they spoke truer than they realized. Though their hope was well-founded, their idea of redemption was far too small.
Is your picture of Jesus too small? Is it too selfish? He came to redeem, yes! But not necessarily from economic deprivation or heart break, or cancer, or any number of other worldly maladies – and don’t get me wrong, none of these things are insignificant! But your sin, my sin, is a much, much bigger need than any of these others.
Ask God to show you your sin – look inside to see why Jesus came to be betrayed, to be handed over, tried, flogged, rejected, and crucified. See once again that He came to redeem His people from their sin. And rejoice that by trusting in Jesus and His resurrection, you may be adopted as God’s child, assured of an eternal inheritance.