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"For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things to Him be the glory forever." Romans 11:36
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The Necessary JesusApr-06-2012
Before time began the death of Jesus has been certain, as certain as our sin. When God created man he had already determined that he would rescue this wicked creature through the violent and bloody death of an innocent man. This innocent man was to be broken on the cross by the very race of rebels that he came to save.
What we recognize about the events of this horrendous-beautiful moment must be a small and incomplete picture. We are like kindergarteners who try to imitate Da Vinci ’s Mona Lisa with crayons. We only draw the biggest, boldest lines in cartoonish figures. The death of Christ is architected by the Sovereign Father who sent Jesus as the incarnate Son of God to live, suffer, die, and then be raised again. This is a salvation that angelic beings have yet to understand in all the ages since the NT was written. In this moment history is so full, God’s plan is so complex, and our savior so infinite that there will never be a full reckoning of all that happened to our Savior in his death and resurrection. Yet, despite all of this complexity, despite our inability to anything but the simplest sketch, despite the inability of angels to understand all of the events of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection we are still duty bound to learn more about this event and its consequences.
Matthew 16:21 records, “From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”
I want to briefly point out to you the misery of this verse. Jesus begins to help his disciples understand that he “must” go. This word must is a word of necessity (lit. “it is necessary”). Jesus was under divine obligation. This was the Father’s plan. This plan was firmly set in the unchangeable will of God who works all things according the counsel of his will. This is no happy certainty. Jesus will stand before the prospect of his crucifixion and plead with his Father saying, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me.” The Father’s infinite loving response echoes back, “It is necessary.”
Why was this necessary? Notice that Matthew’s record says that Jesus began to ‘show’ his disciples. I take this to mean that he was instructing them in the prophetic passages of God’s message in the OT. This death was something that the boy Jesus, the God-man, had been learning from birth as he read the Scriptures. His own death cast a long shadow over the life of this innocent man. Convicted before birth because God had said, “Guilty!” He was on death row for his entire life. God’s prophets said so.
What was necessary? In this verse, Jesus lists four major events that were necessary for him. These shape the broad contours in our simplistic, crayon drawn work. The first (1) is that he had to go to Jerusalem. Consider his reception—“Son of David!” they cry. Palm branches, shouting, and a crowd greet Jesus as he enters his capital city. This should be his coronation (cf. 1 Kings 1:38). Yet, when he arrives at the temple to be anointed with oil and crowned king, no one welcomes him. Rejected. This was necessary. (2) Those who should have anointed him were the elders and chief priests and scribes who caused his suffering. Jesus spends this last dark week serving others and preaching the message of God. On Friday silenced him. (3) They killed him. They would not let him be their king! This too was necessary. There is one more necessity, one more event that Jesus taught to his 12. He taught them that (4) it was necessary that he be raised from the dead on the third day. And so, Jesus raised by the power of the Father—the same Father that was “pleased to crush him” (Isa 53:10). But he is alive today because it was necessary that he be raised. It was not possible for sin to hold him because he is the Almighty King—and on that day death died (Acts 2:24; 1 Cor 15:26).
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