Viewing the Cross Forwards & Backwards

05 Jul

I went to a couple of movies while on my recent vacation. I took my wife to one and went to another with two of my kids. One of the movies had 25 minutes of previews prior to the movie. Afterwards, I leaned over to my son and said, “I wondered if the previews were going to be longer than the movie!”

Oftentimes a movie studio will release two or even three different trailers for an upcoming movie. The first one will be released several months prior to the film. Two or three months later a second trailer will be released. Each successive trailer adds another glimpse into the upcoming film. By adding snippets of dialogue and glimpses into the characters, the filmmaker builds anticipation for the audience.

Jesus employs a similar technique in preparing his disciples for his upcoming death and resurrection. On three different occasions (Mark 8:31; 9:30-32; 10:32-34) Jesus tells his men that he will suffer, die, and rise again. He also adds a bit more detail with each successive preview.

Jesus gives the disciples a second preview of his death and resurrection on the southward journey from Caesarea Philippi to Jerusalem (Mark 9:30). He did not want anyone to know of his itinerary because he was focused on training his disciples (31a). Mark indicates that Jesus’ public ministry is completed and he is now focused on a private ministry of discipleship with his twelve disciples.

As Jesus explained previously (8:31), he will suffer and die. His death will not be the end of the story as he will rise from the grave on the third day. The new element in this presentation is the fact that “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men …” The phrase can be translated two ways, “delivered over” or “delivered up.” The question is, Who is doing the delivering? “Delivered over” points to Judas betraying Jesus to the religious leaders. “Delivered up” reveals that it was God’s plan for Jesus to die for our sins. Both aspects are true.

While Jesus’ disciples heard his words, they did not understand the implications (32). They were reluctant to ask questions that might help clarify the issue, possibly because they remembered Jesus’ rebuke of Peter for wanting the kingdom without the cross (8:31-33).

A movie trailer makes you look forward to the film’s release. After seeing the movie, you can look back and understand what the trailer pointed to. Jesus’ previews of his death and resurrection caused the disciples to look forward to the event. We have the benefit of hindsight and can look back on how the events played out and fulfilled Christ’s prophetic words.

Jesus Christ:

  • Was betrayed by Judas (Mark 14:10-11, 43-50)
  • Was denied by Peter (Mark 14:26-31, 54, 66-72)
    • Peter denied Jesus with his words; all the other disciples denied him with their absence (Mark 14:50)
  • Suffered (Mark 15:1-20)
  • Was crucified (Mark 15:21-39)
  • Was buried (Mark 15:42-37)
  • Rose from the dead on the third day (Mark 16:1-8)

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church on July 5, 2015. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.


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