Lesson for the Lord’s Day

And they shall kill Him and the third day He shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. Matthew 17:23

A well-respected and well-liked senior official (we’ll call him Joe) in the police department was apparently caught breaking the police department’s policies, and was called into the commissioner’s office. Word shortly afterward leaked out that Joe had been fired, and he disappeared from the department. His fellow workers were very surprised, because Joe had always been known as an honest and hard-working cop. They felt management had been too heavy-handed with him, and they were sorry to see him go. Three months later, they learned the truth. Joe had not been fired, after all. He had been assigned to an under-cover investigation where his work resulted in several corrupt city officials being arrested. When Joe returned to his regular duties, he was hailed as a hero by the men and women who had previously been sorry to see him depart. Perhaps Joe’s case is a little like that of the Lord Jesus in our text, with the disciples sorry about His mission.

From the disciples’ perspective, and knowing their limited grasp of the real purpose for the Lord Jesus’ mission, we can understand how they would be sorry to hear that He was to be killed. They had come to love and appreciate Him; He was their closest friend and confidant. They had come to worship and revere Him as they watched His miracles. They had come to respect Him as they heard Him teach and confound the religious leaders. To think of Him being killed was more than they could accept. In truth, they had heard only half of His announcement, missing the reference to being raised again. And they never questioned Him as to His purpose for being killed, as they appeared to consider Him to be willing to be a martyr to a great cause. No wonder they were sorry. But they were wrong.

As we consider the death of the Lord Jesus, with the full accounts of the four Gospel writers, and with all of the teachings of the New Testament, we are sorry, too. But we are sorry that it was our sins that drew Him from Heaven’s mansions to earth’s bowers, that led Him through a lonely path of rejection and poverty in His own creation, that caused Him to hang in torments, shame, and oppression on the middle cross of Golgotha. The sorrow we feel is that such a Saviour must die for the likes of us. But we are not sorry that He died! No, the reality that Christ died for our sins is one of the most wonderful truths we have ever appreciated. Our hearts swell in gratitude and joy to know that He died for us.

This is my boast, and this my song: Jesus died for me! -Jim MacIntosh

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