Jesus repeatedly insisted during His public ministry that He must suffer and die. He pre-announced His death as “a must”. Jesus never spoke of His sufferings and impending death in a doubtful or reluctant manner, but in the most express and clear terms. Consider the following portions of the Scriptures that record His statements about His death:
- Matthew 16:21 – “From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”
- Mark 8:31 – “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”
- Luke 9:22 – “Saying, The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day.”
- Luke 17:25 – “But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation.”
- Luke 24:7 – “Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.”
- Luke 24:26 – “Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?”
- John 3:14 – “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up.”
Christ’s intimation of His sufferings and death was not a subject that even His disciples could fathom. They were very uneasy and discomfited when He started to give prominence to the topic of His sufferings and death. They would rather hear from Him about the majesty of His deity than the ignominy of His sufferings and death. So, when Jesus “began … to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day” (Matthew 16:21), “Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee” (Matthew 16:22). Peter’s failure to accept Christ’s insistence on the inevitability and exigency of His sufferings and death drew for himself a sharp condemnation from the Lord.
The term “must” in the above statements of Christ emphasises His death as a necessary part of God’s plan of salvation. First of all, it denotes that Christ’s death was the predetermined counsel of God. His sufferings, death and resurrection must all come to pass because of the immutable decree of God, and in line with the covenant of grace. It is the “must” of God’s master plan for our redemption. In addition, it also denotes the certainty of the prediction that Jesus made about His death. His death was not only predicted by Himself, but also by the ancient prophets of Israel. It is thus, secondly, the “must” of prediction. Moreover, it denotes the appropriateness and suitability of Christ’s death for our salvation. If His death was not offered for the forgiveness of our sins, there will never be any other suited means to provide for our forgiveness. Hence it is, thirdly, the “must” of moral suitableness of His suffering and death for our atonement.
Let us worship and sing unto Christ our Saviour, who came and lived on earth willingly and readily to secure our redemption by His sufferings, death and resurrection.