"For I, the Son of Man, must suffer many terrible things," he said. "I will be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. I will be killed, but three days later I will be raised from the dead." – Luke 9:22 NLT
When these words came off the lips of Jesus, His disciples were less-than-ecstatic. In fact, they were surprised and confused. This wasn't exactly what they had signed up for. After all, they were fully expecting Jesus, as the long-awaited Messiah, to set up His kingdom on earth and destroy the oppressive rule of the Romans. He was going to be the warrior-king who, like His ancestor David, would wage war against the enemies of Israel and set up His kingdom in Jerusalem. It was going to be great, and the disciples thought they would be ruling right alongside Christ in His earthly kingdom. Now here He comes talking about suffering and death at the hands of the elders, chief priests and scribes of Israel. None of this made sense. Why would the religious leaders of their day want to kill the Messiah? This all had to sound preposterous to the disciples. And as if that wasn't bad enough, Jesus goes on to tell them that they were going to have to deny themselves and take up their own crosses if they were going to continue following Him. Wow! Not exactly good news.
But we know that is exactly what it was – good news. Jesus' death was the key to His coming. He came to offer Himself as a sacrifice for all. Ephesians 5:2 tells us that Jesus "gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." He died so that we might live. His death resulted in a different kind of victory than the disciples were looking for. He came to set them free from the rule of sin and the penalty of death, not the Romans. He came to give them victory over the grave, not some foreign occupying army. The life Jesus was offering was going to require death. His own. And it would require of the disciples a daily dying of themselves. They were going to have to die to their expectations and dreams. They were going to have to die to their addictive habit of trying to save themselves. They were going to have to lose their lives in order to gain the new life that Jesus offered. But it would prove to be an exchange that was well worth it. Our sin for His righteousness. Our forgiveness for His condemnation. Our new life for His death. His power for our weakness. Our salvation for His sacrifice.
So the bad news would prove to be very good news after all. And it still is.
Father, thank You for the good news regarding Your Son Jesus Christ. Thank You for coming up with a plan that was far better than anything the disciples could have dreamed up or dreamed of. Your way is the best. And I am grateful that the bad news regarding Your son's death would prove to be the best news of all time. Amen.