On Your Mark by Dr. George O. Wood
“We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.” (Mark 10:33,34, NIV)
In the last year of His ministry, Jesus began the process of unfolding to the Twelve how it all would end up. He didn’t tell them everything at once.
This is the third and final announcement or teaching that Jesus gave regarding His approaching death and resurrection in Jerusalem.
He first revealed His plan to die immediately after Peter confessed Him as the Messiah (8:31,32). At that time Jesus summarized what lay ahead by saying He would (1) suffer many things; (2) be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the Law; (3) be killed; and (4) after three days rise again.
The second time Jesus spoke of the future (9:30-32), He repeated the essential elements He gave in the prior teaching, and then added a new detail — that He would be betrayed. He didn’t say that the betrayal would come from the Twelve; He just dropped off that piece of information. Had He told them at that moment the betrayal would come from one of them, it would have created tremendous relational tension in the group, as they would all begin to suspect one another. In that climate of mistrust, Jesus could not have continued to effectively teach them all they needed to learn in those last months He was with them.
In this final announcement (10:33,34), Jesus provided even more detail: (1) the chief priests and teachers of the Law would condemn Him to death; (2) they would hand Him over to the Gentiles; and (3) the Gentiles would mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him, and kill Him.
The bottom line is this: Why did Jesus think it was necessary for Him to do this? Why was the cross essential in His plan?
It’s because you and I could never make it to heaven if He didn’t make it possible. Our sins simply and completely disqualify us from ever living in the presence of a holy God.
You wouldn’t think of entering an operating room with dirty and contaminated clothes on, or with a communicable disease. In the same manner, heaven is sin-free. It’s a perfect environment, and God refuses to destroy that environment with soul-pollution.
How can we who are so impure on the inside ever exist in an external realm where there is nothing but purity? On your own, you could never get sufficiently decontaminated from sin to qualify yourself to ever enter God’s presence.
That’s why Jesus knew He had to go to the cross. He did it for us. He didn’t do it to set himself up as some great martyr or hero for a cause, or to show He was a better person than the opposition, or to become a poster example for all those who choose a nonviolent path to protest injustice. Although those may be sufficient goals for some, that was not His goal.
He went to the cross for you, for me! He had you in mind as He journeyed up to Jerusalem. Think of Him saying your name, “Father, I’m going to the cross so the one I love can come into My eternal kingdom. I’m doing this for him, for her!”
A prayer of response
GEORGE O. WOOD is general superintendent of the Assemblies of God.
On Your Mark