Jesus Again Predicts His Death
After they gathered again in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” And the disciples were filled with grief. Matthew 17:22-23 NLT
My Thoughts: Jesus first tells his disciples he will die in Matthew 16:21-
“From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.”
Notice in these verses he tells the disciples where it will happen (Jerusalem), and that the religious leaders will be responsible for his death. However, in the verses we read in Matthew 17:22-23, he tells them something very unsettling: someone Jesus knew and trusted would be so unfaithful they would surrender him into the hands of his enemies.
I can’t help but wonder if these men considered whether the betrayer would be one of them? Did they discuss it among themselves? Did they worry about what the death of Jesus would mean for them? After all, they had left everything behind to follow Jesus. Did they worry as his trusted disciples if they would be killed too? There could only be one response from these men:
“And the disciples were filled with grief.”
Grief; for such a small word it carries a lot of weight in our hearts and souls, wouldn’t you agree?
Let’s look at a definition of grief: deep sorrow, especially that is caused by someone’s death. Synonyms- misery, sadness, anguish, pain, distress, agony, suffering (to name a few).
I’m sure you have noticed that I have been absent from the blogging world for weeks. There are a few reasons why, but it is mostly because of the topic of these verses. It is a subject I really didn’t want to discuss because of the grief it causes in my own heart, especially now.
You see, as a caregiver for my elderly relative, I know she has more days behind her than in front of her. With her new health issues, the number of days ahead seem uncomfortably short. We both know that she will not escape death; no one does, but it doesn’t stop us from wondering how it will happen. However, I know God doesn’t want us to worry about tomorrow:
“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.” Matthew 6:34 NLT
My Mother, on the other hand, left this world eleven years ago on 9/21. As I am reminded again of her death it has made my heart lonely for her and rekindled difficult memories of her final days on this earth. Unlike the disciples’ shock hearing about the coming death of Jesus, our Mother’s death was not exactly a surprise as her health had been declining. However, it was a shock to face how she died (physician neglect and mishandling of medications). My siblings and I knew the “who,” we knew the “how/where,” and we felt like the doctor “betrayed her trust.” We, like the disciples, were filled with grief, but we were also filled with anger.
But let’s look at something very closely in these predictions: In Matthew 16 Peter attempted to criticize Jesus for speaking the truth and he was immediately admonished by Jesus (Matthew 16:23). Perhaps that exchange contributed to their response when Jesus predicts his death the second time?
Maybe it’s just me, but when I look at those predictions closely, my take-away is that sometimes the right response to death is simply grief.
When we learned about my Mother’s neglect (and we had proof), we were so angry. Initially, we did want that doctor to pay for his careless mistakes, but we chose not to handle it through the courts. Instead, our wise older sister took the proof directly to that doctor and placed in his hands. We gave him the guilt and we walked away from it, because it wasn’t our burden to bear. Our decision to take that path gave us the freedom to simply grieve our loss and rejoice in the truth that she was with Jesus. This was such good news for our bruised hearts!
Which brings me to most amazing thing about both predictions from Jesus. The disciples didn’t ask Jesus what he meant when he said in BOTH predictions:
“on the third day he would be raised from the dead.”
How could they have missed hearing this piece of the prediction? This is good news! Why? Because the sacrifice Jesus made—to die for us—is absolutely the greatest gift and act of love we will ever be given, and we are free to receive it! When Jesus shed his blood for us, he covered ALL our sins as the final and perfect sacrifice! When we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we freely receive the gift of everlasting life.
“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NLT
Eternal life begins when we put our faith in Jesus Christ. As believers in Christ, our lives continue with God after our physical death. That means when I die, I will be reunited with my Mother! I know that she will be so proud of us for surrendering our anger and for not adopting bitterness about her death. We will celebrate together that we chose to grieve, yes, but most importantly, to rejoice in her new life with Jesus.
So, how do we earn this gift of eternal life (salvation)? We can’t!
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV
We can freely receive this gift simply by surrendering our hearts to Jesus:
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NLT
Another piece of good news is receiving this gift of salvation has nothing to do with our sin, because Jesus tells us that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). If your response is ‘you don’t know what I have done,’ well, look at what God says about that:
“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV
When Jesus died, he died once to break the power of sin in our lives. Once we surrender our hearts to Jesus the Holy Spirit moves into our hearts and we are no longer slaves to our sins. We can repent, meaning we can turn away from those sins, with the power of Jesus that lives in us!
“The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” Romans 8:11
Why indeed, didn’t the disciples ask Jesus about that amazing piece of good news? Are you ready to receive that good news and surrender your heart to Jesus?
Closing Prayer: Father, I am so sorry it’s taken me awhile to embrace the good news that Jesus offered amid the hard news about his death. I thank you for your patience and faithfulness to wait on me as I struggled with those old memories until I was reminded of our victory in You!! Father, I pray for the eyes reading these words–dictated to my heart by You–will surrender their heart to Jesus and receive that gift of eternal life. Thank you for the security of everlasting life because my heart belongs to You. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.
4 thoughts on “Matthew 17:22-23”
Grief is hard. I’m sorry to hear about this rough time you’ve been going through but glad that God spoke these things to you through His Word.
I’m guessing that the disciples were in denial, all the while trying to process what Jesus was saying. I think they had thought they had His purpose for coming all figured out as being to set up His earthly kingdom, and it was too hard to surrender their expectations in exchange for what seemed like such a harsh reality.
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I think you are absolutely right and oh don’t we sometimes do the same when we thought we knew what direction something was going, only to discover it was not only different but difficult.
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Yes, for sure!
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