By Dr. Ronnie Wolfe
February 7, 2020
Mat 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.
“The Beauty of Jerusalem”
The Talmud teaches, “Ten measures of beauty descended on the world; nine were taken by Jerusalem, one by the rest of the world.” Years later, Mark Twain said, “There is no beauty like the beauty of Jerusalem.”
Jesus loved Jerusalem and even wept over it. The twelve apostles loved Jerusalem. All Jews loved and love Jerusalem. Jerusalem was known as the “city of God.” To the Jew it was where God dwelt. Their temple was there, their priests did their duties there, and the beauty of the garments of the high priest on the Day of Atonement must have been a striking beauty. If only every Jew by birth or by proselytism were to be able to wander inside the temple, what beauty he would be able to behold.
On this day in our text, however, Jesus was to cast a shadow over Jerusalem in the ears and hearts of his disciples due to this tragic announcement of his passion that was to come upon him in the near future.
The Greek word translated “betrayed” here is PARADIDOMAI and means “to surrender, or to give up.” That is exactly what Judas Iscariot did to Jesus; he gave Jesus up to the chief priests and scribes for his torture and death. Only a lost soul can give up the Lord Jesus Christ. Believers never do, because Jesus lives inside each believe. He did not live inside of Judas, for he was a devil (John 6:70).
This betrayal cast a dark shadow over the beauty in the minds of the disciples as they approached that wonderful and popular city, Jerusalem. Never would this city be what it was to the disciples who heard this great calumny pronounced against those in this great city who had dark hearts and evil intentions.
This, we know, was condemnation that was unjust and undeserved, but the leading Jews of that great city, Jerusalem, were angry due to their thinking that Jesus was a blasphemer, who professed to be the Son of God, who they thought could not be; because Jesus’ doctrine did not fit their own doctrine. Their doctrine was based primarily upon the doctrines and customs of men, not upon God’s word only. When Jesus proclaimed the truth, error raised its ugly head and screamed out in fear and terror and judgment against the truth. Truth lay in the street, and heresy was glorified.
Their condemnation was not a simple censure against Christ; it was a grandiose and arrogant proposal of superiority over Jesus, the Christ, and even God himself. The priests’ and scribes’ condemnation was “to death.” Nothing less would satisfy them. This man must die!
“Deliverance To Death”
Condemnation is one thing, but it is only one step toward complete fulfillment of that condemnation, carrying out the condemnation, handing over the Lord Jesus into the hands of the Gentiles (a disgusting people to the Jews) for the torture and death of our Savior. They delivered Jesus Christ from their hands and, hopefully, from their minds and hearts (19).
Their condemnation was that the Gentiles would mock, scourge, and crucify Jesus (19). This cruel treatment was no more than this wicked man (Jesus) should receive. He was a “glutton,” a “wine-bibber,” a “liar,” and a “blasphemer.” Their hearts would be happy upon the execution of these things.
“Deliverance To Victory”
Little did the priests and scribes realize that, upon their deliverance of Jesus to the Gentiles, Jesus was going to fulfill, not only the suffering that was required by God’s justice for our sins, but also that Jesus would have a great victory over his death, not at the hands of the Gentiles, but at the hands of God Himself; because on the third day he was to rise again.
If they had known that delivering Jesus to the Gentiles was a fulfillment of prophecy and was done by the determinate counsel of God (Acts 2:23), they would never have done it. When they had delivered their defendant into the hands of the Gentile jurisdiction, they could not reverse course, but God’s counsel was sure and was determined. No one could take Jesus back from that which he came to the earth to do. God was ruler over all of these attitudes and actions; and, when God determines to do a thing, he is faithful to do it.
The hatred of the Jews, the willingness of the Gentiles to torture and kill Jesus, and the hand of God were in operation. No one can reverse it. Jesus came to “seek and to save that which was lost,” and this is the only way he could do it. It was God’s will, Jesus’ will, and the Spirit’s will that this would take place.
It seems sad in a way that the disciples did not respond to this as recorded in Matthew, but it was because their minds were muddled against a mysterious truth that would be shown to them much later; and upon their knowledge and understanding of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, their hearts were charged with faith and boldness so that this message of the Gospel became the most significant and powerful message in the entire world. The disciples’ fortitude in preaching the Gospel is without equal in the world in comparison to any message the world has ever heard. Many gave their lives for preaching this Gospel. The Jews and the world will either hate this message or love this message. It is the desire of everyone who knows Jesus through the preaching of the Gospel that their friends, family, and people around them would be saved. This is a God-given desire, and it can be had only by the Spirit of God.
Paul said in Romans 10:1 “Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” Jesus told his disciples (a commission to every local church) – Matthew 28:18 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”