Matthew 20:17-19 And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, 18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, 19 and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
Jesus Is Headed Toward Jerusalem One Last Time
Our Lord Jesus is on His final trip to Jerusalem. Why is Jesus going to Jerusalem? Is it to celebrate the Passover, as all faithful Jews do at this time of the year. No. Jesus is going to Jerusalem to BE the Passover. The Apostle said:
1 Corinthians 5:7 … Christ our passover is sacrificed for us
The Passover, for the Jew, was a time to remember when Israel was freed from bondage to the world, to Egypt. From the time of Joseph until the time of Moses, Israel was in bondage, slaves to a pagan culture. Her children were aborted at the whim of the Pharaoh. She had no Temple, no place of worship.
Then God sent the Passover. He told His people that death was coming, and that death would visit every house that fateful night. God told His people in Exodus 12 that each family was to take a “lamb without blemish” (Exodus 12:5) into their homes on the tenth day of the month (Exodus 12:3). They were to keep the Lamb until the fourteenth day of the month (Exodus 12:6), and in the evening kill it. The Blood of the Lamb was to be placed on the entryway of the home (Exodus 12:7). When death passed by Israel, God’s people, if God saw the Blood of the Lamb He promised:
Exodus 12:13 … when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
This ancient ritual is a precursor to what Jesus would do for us all in Jerusalem. The lamb was kept from the 10th to the 14th day – and slaughtered in the evening on the 14th day. If you were to count the days as if they were years, Jesus has been on this earth for about 3 ½ years. His evening has come, and He is obediently headed toward Jerusalem. Why did Jesus have to go? Why did He have to die on Calvary?
Jesus shed His Blood so that we who believe in Him can be safe from death. His Blood, received by faith in Him, stands on doorway of our lives. Jesus is with us! Death will pass over us. We belong to God!
Jesus is going up to Jerusalem to die for us. Matthew records Jesus’ words:
Matthew 20:18 Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed…
The word rendered “BETRAYED” is the Greek παραδίδωμι paradídōmi, (pronounced par-ad-id’-o-mee), which means “to be delivered or handed over to be judged”. The same word is more properly rendered “shall be delivered” in the King James text of Mark 10:33 and Luke 18:32. Jesus was being handed over to the Chief Priests and the Scribes, and will be judged by both Jewish as well as Gentile Judges. But the judgment that Jesus is going for is the judgment of God for the sins of mankind. As part of this handing over, Jesus’ friend Judas Iscariot would conspire with the priests and Scribes, and be instrumental in Christ’s death (Matthew 26:47-50). Judas’ betrayal was prophesied by the Psalmist, who wrote:
Psalm 41:9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
Judas conspired to turn Jesus over to the religious authorities, but Jesus knew all about this. Jesus’ was ultimately delivered over to judgment because God foreordained it. Jesus Christ – the Son of Man – the Messiah – would die. Not for His sins, but for your and my sins. The Scripture declares:
1 Corinthians 15:3-4 … Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Isaiah spoke very clearly about the Messiah, and His work that woulds do as our Passover:
Isaiah 53:7-10 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin,
Jesus’ soul was an offering for our sin. His body, beaten and bruised by man, nailed to a Cross, hung on Calvary to atone for, that is, to cover our sins. John the Baptist called Jesus:
John 1:29 … the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (also John 1:36)
Just as the lamb without blemish took Israel out of Egypt, the Lamb of God would free those who receive Him from Egypt, the fallen world. Because Jesus went up to Jerusalem, willingly laying His life down for us, we are redeemed from death and the devil. We are redeemed …
1 Peter 1:19-20 … with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,
It is Jesus of Whom Heaven sings:
Revelation 5:6-9 … they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;
Jesus is going to Jerusalem, where both Jew and Gentile …
Matthew 20:18-19 … shall condemn him to death, 19 and shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.
How Did The Disciples Respond To What Jesus Said? Luke tells us:
Luke 18:34 and they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.
The Apostles heard the words, but they did not register. This was the third time Jesus would teach them about His impending death. Yet the did not process it. Why was this? Because their hearts were focused on something else. Mark tells us:
Mark 10:32 … they were amazed; and as they followed, they were afraid …
The disciples knew that if Jesus went into Jerusalem at this time, He was walking into the lions den. They knew that the Scribes, Pharisees, and Priests were all very angry with Jesus, and sought His destruction. Fear was driving their hearts. They wanted to talk Jesus out of going up to Jerusalem, but Luke tells us:
Luke 9:51 … when the time was come that Jesus should be received up, He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.
“RECEIVED UP” is the Greek ἀνάληψις análēpsis, (pronounced an-al’-ape-sis). Jesus is going to be “lifted up” on the Cross of Calvary (John 3:14; John 8:28; John 12:32) for our sins. Dying, His death will be RECEIVED UP to God in His Heaven. Jesus steadfastly set His face to go and do what He must do. The disciples were frightened, but still they accompanied our Lord. Yet these same disciples, when the time comes, will all desert Jesus. The Cross is His Work, and His Work alone. Jesus knows this. He will later tell His disciples:
Matthew 26:31-32 … All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
But there was something else on the mind of the disciples besides fear of the Jewish Authorities.
Who Shall Be The Greatest In Heaven?
Jesus has been, for the third time, sharing His impending death on Calvarius. But what is occupying the minds of the disciples is who is better than who. We are told:
Matthew 20:20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshiping him, and desiring a certain thing of him. 21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? …
Three disciples were chosen by Jesus every time He went into a special place to pray. These three were Peter, James, and John. The mother of James and John comes to Jesus, and our Lord asks, “What Do You Want Me To Do?”. This mother wants the best for her children … though I expect her sons put her up to asking. Their mother asked:
Matthew 20:21-22 … Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom. 22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
Jesus tells the mother, “You don’t know what you’re asking for!”. Every time Jesus tried to discuss His coming death on Calvarius, the disciples wanted to argue over who was the greatest. Jesus asked the men, “Are you able to drink the cup that I shall drink of?”. Our Lord Jesus drank of the cup of death:
Hebrews 2:9 … we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.
The “CUP” that Jesus drank was the Cup of Death and Judgment. Three times Jesus prayed in Gethsemane:
Matthew 26:39 … O my Father, if it be possible, let this CUP pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.
Three times the Father told the Son that this CUP was for Him and Him alone. When soldiers came to seize Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter drew his sword, and would have done battle to protect Jesus. But Jesus told Peter:
John 18:11 Then said Jesus unto Peter, Put up thy sword into the sheath: the CUP which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?
Jesus drank the Cup of blessing, so that we who believe in Him can have the CUP of blessing (1 Corinthians 10:16)
The One enthroned in yonder Heaven is the One Who drank the CUP of cursing for us. James and John cannot drink of Christ’s CUP. They do not understand. None of us are qualified to drink of Christ’s CUP! We are all sinners, conceived in sin. The Scripture says:
Romans 3:10-11 … There is none righteous, no, not one: 11 there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
Romans 3:23 … for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Neither James nor John can drink of the CUP of Christ. We can speak of the CUP. We can believe Jesus drank the CUP. But for a sinner to drink the CUP, there is no effect. Christ alone is blameless, sinless, the Lamb of God. Only He can drink of this CUP.
Jesus asks James and John,
Matthew 20:22 … Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?
They cannot, but pride blinds them to the truth. They immediately answer,
Matthew 20:22 … We are ABLE …
The King James text really doesn’t convey the arrogance of their reply. The word rendered “ABLE” is the Greek δύναμαι dýnamai, (pronounced doo’-nam-ahee), which means “to have power by virtue of one’s own ability and resources, or of a state of mind, or through favourable circumstances, or by permission of law or custom”. They were like, “Oh yes, Lord. We have the POWER to do it!” What arrogance this was. Yet Jesus did not chastise them. Instead He tells them:
Matthew 20:23 … Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
James would be martyred by King Herod, killed by the sword (Acts 12:2). Though John would not die by martyrdom, he will be exiled to the Isle of Patmos (Revelation 1:9), and will die of old age. The Father will determine who will be placed where in Heaven. Jesus was totally submitted to the will of God the Father.
Matthew 20:24-28 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren. 25 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. 26 But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; 27 and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: 28 even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
I suspect the other ten disciples were indignant because they wished they had thought to get their mothers involved with getting special favor from Jesus. Jesus once more corrects them all, and reminds them that the way to Heaven and the walk with Christ is a humble one. If you are saved by faith in Him, you are to follow His example. He lowered Himself for others. We are to lower ourselves for others.
The greatest in Heaven will not be those who put themselves first. It will be those who put others first, and put themselves last.
I Want To Be Blessed Of Jesus
How does one get a blessing from Jesus? How is one saved by Jesus? As Jesus heads toward Jerusalem, he passes through an area called Jericho. This is not the Jericho that Joshua marched around. That Jericho was destroyed. This Jericho is a suburb of Jerusalem, a place known as the tax center of Jerusalem. What I find interesting is that, while in Jericho, Jesus meets a tax collector named Zacchaeus. What I find interesting about this is that
Matthew, who once was a tax collector, ignores the story of Zacchaeus. Luke is the one who tells us his story
(see Luke 19:1ff).
Why Zacchaeus wasn’t mentioned by Matthew is a mystery that will only be solved when we get to Heaven. I love his story – but that’s for another day. Right after Jesus saves Zacchaeus, and Zacchaeus promises to reimburse those he swindled:
Luke 19:8 …. Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.
Such an amazing conversion caused a crowd of people to join Jesus and His disciples as they traveled to Jerusalem. We read:
Matthew 20:29-30 And as they departed from Jericho, a great multitude followed him. 30 And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
These men could not see Jesus, but they could hear Jesus. They cried out to Jesus. They didn’t want to be great in the Kingdom of Heaven. They didn’t want to drink Jesus’ CUP. They “CRIED OUT”. This is the Greek κράζω krazō (pronounced CRAY-ZOH). This word is often used to describe the cries that a woman makes while she is in labor. These men are not concerned about what others think. They cry out. They cry out for mercy. This is a wonderful prayer. The Psalmist David, a man after God’s own heart, pleads to God some 21 times for mercy.
These men were disturbing the crowd. They had seen Zacchaeus saved, and were in a good mood. Now these two filthy beggars are rocking the boat!
Matthew 20:31 And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David.
These men didn’t care what the multitude said. They could have cared less what others thought. They needed Jesus. They were tired of the miserable lives they were living. They were tired of suffering. They were tired of fear. They were tired of just existing. They persisted, and cried out all the more!
Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
Oh, how the Lord loves to hear the cries of a suffering soul! God wants to relieve us in our distress (Psalm 4:1). The Lord will always hear when I cry out to Him (Psalm 4:3).
Jesus asked James and John’s mother, “What do you want Me to do?” What does Jesus ask these blind, suffering men?
Matthew 20:32 … Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you?
What do you want Me to do? Jesus calls out to them. What do you desire? What do you need? The men simply say:
Matthew 20:33 … Lord, that our eyes may be opened.
How does Jesus respond? He draws near to them, so close that He can touch their eyes. The stepbrother of Jesus wrote:
James 4:10 … Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Matthew 20:34 … Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him.
This is the testimony of all who have come to Jesus for salvation. They cry out. Jesus hears them. Jesus comes near, and touches them. Then they are healed, made whole. They are saved … and they follow the Lord.
How about you? Are you saved by faith in Christ? What do you need from Jesus this very day? Cry out to Him. Seek Him with your whole heart, and He will bless you will life, eternal life, joyous life. May God work in your hearts today through His Word and his Spirit. Amen and Amen!