There’s an old joke that is not near as funny to me now that my hair is thin and graying. The punchline is “I want to die peacefully in my sleep like my grandpa did, not screaming in terror like those in the car with him.”
What would you do if you knew the time and manner of your death? As Easter draws near I am reminded that the Son of Man knew exactly how, when, and where He would die. In Luke 18:31-33, He forewarns His closest disciples for the third time. Here are His words as translated in the NIV:
Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be delivered over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him and spit on him; they will flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”
Though the words are plain in hindsight, the next verse tells us that the disciples did not comprehend His meaning. Maybe they didn’t want to understand.
“How can the Christ be killed?”
“How would God let His Son perish?”
“If Jesus dies, what becomes of us?”
“If You die, your Kingdom dies too!”
In spite of his foreknowledge, the Son of Man did not run away.
Many times i have felt dread for my future and curled up in a ball hoping it would never arrive. On the night of His betrayal, the Son of Man knew what awaited Him. He asked His father for an alternative to the beating and crucifixion he faced, but in the end, He submitted to His Father’s will.
You have likely noticed that three times I have referred to Jesus as the Son of Man, which is the term He used most often when describing Himself. I do that to remind you that Jesus, the Son of God, was also fully man.
Part of Him undoubtedly wanted to curl in a ball and not face His destiny. Part of Him may have wanted to simply walk away, go back to Galilee and pick up his hammer and saw. He wanted, perhaps, to call down the angels to strike down Pilate, Annas, Herod, and their Roman guards. He was all man. He feared. He angered. He loved. He was tempted.
In Ezekiel 3 we see a picture of the Son of Man figuratively eating a scroll, bearing the sins of His people. In Daniel 7 the Son of Man ascends to Heaven on a cloud where He will sit next to the Ancient of Days. In the Gospels we see how the Son of Man transitions between the two, the Sin-bearer and the Exalted One. The transition from Sin-bearer to Exalted One is the Resurrection. Easter.
The Son of Man Who is also the Son of God bore our sins, died, was resurrected, and ascended to Heaven, so that we too may overcome our sins and live with Him in eternity.
The Good News is He lives.