"The Son of Man must suffer many things," He said. "He must be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life."
The Son of Man must suffer many things.I. We have here set forth in the first place our LORD'S ANTICIPATION OF THE CROSS. Mark the tone of the language, the minuteness of the detail, the absolute certainty of the prevision. That is not the language of a man who simply is calculating that the course which he is pursuing is likely to end in his martyrdom; but the thing lies there before Him, a definite, fixed certainty; every detail known, the scene, the instruments, the non-participation of these in the final act of His death, His resurrection, and its date — all manifested and mapped out in His sight, and all absolutely certain.
II. OUR LORD'S RECOGNITION OF THE NECESSITY OF HIS SUFFERING. He does not say "shall," but "must." His suffering was necessary on the ground of filial obedience. The Father's will is the Son's law. But yet that necessity grounded on filial obedience, was no mere external necessity determined solely by the Divine will. God so willed it, because it must be so, and not it must be because God so willed it. That is to say, the work to which Christ had set His hand was a work that demanded the Cross, nor could it be accomplished without it. For it was the work of redeeming the world, and required more than a beautiful life, more than a Divine gentleness of heart, more than the homely and yet deep wisdom of His teachings, it required the sacrifice that He offered on the Cross.
III. Now, note further, HOW WE HAVE HERE ALSO, OUR LORD'S WILLING ACCEPTANCE OF THE NECESSITY. It is one thing to recognize, and another thing to accept, a needs-be. This "must" was no unwelcome obligation laid upon Him against His will, but one to which His whole nature responded, and which He accepted. No doubt there was in Him the innocent instinctive physical shrinking from death. No doubt the Cross, in so far, was pain and suffering. But that shrinking might be a shrinking of nature, but it was not a recoil of will. The ship may toss in dreadful billows, but the needle points to the pole. The train may rock upon the line, but it never leaves the rails. Christ felt that the Cross was an evil, but that never made Him falter in His determination to hear it, His willing acceptance of the necessity was owing to His full resolve to save the world. He must die because He would redeem, and He would redeem because He could not but love. So the "must" was not an iron chain that fastened Him to His Cross. Like some of the heroic martyrs of old, who refused to be bound to the funeral pile, He stood there chained to it by nothing but His own will and loving purpose to save the world. And oh I brethren; in that loving purpose, each of us may be sure that we had an individual and a personal share. He must die, because "He loved me, and gave Himself for me."
IV. Lastly, notice here our LORD'S TEACHING THE NECESSITY OF HIS DEATH. This announcement was preceded by that conversation which led to the crystalizing of the half-formed convictions of the apostles in a definite creed — "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." But that was not all that they needed to know, and believe and trust to. That was the first volume of their lesson-book. The second volume was this, that "Christ must suffer." And so let us learn the central place which the Cross holds in Christ's teaching.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
I. It was at that time, and in the sense our Saviour then spake it, necessary for this reason, because otherwise the prophecies that went before concerning Him could not have been fulfilled. This reason our Saviour Himself gives (Matthew 26:53; Mark 14:48; Luke 24:26, 44). The same reason is alleged also by the apostles in their preaching (Acts 17:2; 1 Peter 1:10).
II. The death of Christ was necessary to make the pardon of sin. But the death of Christ was necessary, at least in this respect, to make the pardon of sin consistent with the wisdom of God in His good government of the world, and to be a proper attestation of His irreconcilable hatred against all unrighteousness.
III. The practical inferences from what has been said are as follows.
1. This doctrine concerning Christ's dying for our sins is a strong argument for the indispensable necessity of our own repentance and reformation of life.
2. The consideration of Christ's giving Himself a sacrifice for our sins is, to them who truly repent, an encouragement to approach with confidence to the throne of grace in our prayers to God through Him (Romans 8:32).
3. The death of Christ is a great example to us of patient suffering at any time in well-doing, when the providence of God shall call us to bear testimony in that manner to His truth (1 Peter 3:17).
(S. Clarke, D. D.)
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