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Rays of Light Bible Lessons by Keith Holder


Matt 17:22-23 And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: and they shall kill Him, and the third day He shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry. (Also see Mark 9:30-32; Luke 9:43-45)

In the previous verses of this chapter of Matthew, Jesus tested the faith of His disciples. First they were tested about the significance of His transfiguration on a nearby mountain, and secondly with the healing of the man's son that was possessed with a devil. In each instance Jesus found the faith of His apostles lacking (See Matt. 17:1-21). This, having taken place in the northeastern province of Israel, near the city of Caesarea Philippi, we now find Jesus and His apostles back in Galilee. More precisely, Mark writes that they departed thence, and passed through Galilee.

Arriving in Galilee, they probably came into an area near the city of Capernaum (See Matt. 17:24). In the lesson text Jesus again reveals His impending death, burial, and resurrection to His apostles. This same revelation was made to them immediately after Jesus told them about the establishment of His church, which was to be built on the foundation of the confession of Him being the Son of God. There it is said that from that time forth began Jesus to show 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 (Matt. 16:21; also see Mark 8:31; Luke 18:31).

Although His impending fate had been expressly described to them previously, by the apostle's reaction to, and the lack of faith revealed in the preceding incidents of His transfiguration and the healing of the lunatic son, it was evident that their understanding of Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection also remained lacking. Therefore, Jesus reminded His apostles once again of this impending event - that which would befall Him as He entered Jerusalem for the final time. Luke adds that Jesus gave them this strong admonition to hear, understand, and believe what He was about to tell them: Let these sayings sink down into your ears.

Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men. To be betrayed means to be delivered into the hands of enemies by a traitor. This is the betrayal plot, which Jesus foretold: Then one of the twelve (apostles), called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him (Matt. 26:14-16). That prophecy was soon fulfilled. And while He yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed Him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is He: hold Him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, Master; and kissed Him (Matt. 26:47-49). The predicted event took place exactly as Jesus told His disciples that it would, and no doubt as His apostles looked back on this event all skepticism and disbelief that they once had was dispelled.

Continuing His prophecy, Jesus said that after His betrayal, the men to whom He was betrayed would kill him. He assures them that, even though He will be slain by those to whom He was betrayed, they should not despair or lose hope because death will be overcome and He shall rise the third day. Even with this assurance, Matthew continues his narrative by saying that the apostles were exceeding sorry. The reason for their sorrow was revealed by both Mark and Luke. Mark wrote that the apostles understood not that saying, and were afraid to ask Him (Vs. 32), while Luke said that they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask Him of that saying.

Their acceptance of Jesus' suffering death was extremely difficult for them to humanly accept. Their love for Him was evident, and to see Him suffer death would be difficult for them to bear. Knowing Him to be the Messiah, they still expected Him to restore an earthly kingdom to Israel, and this would not be possible if He were slain. Complete knowledge was providentially hid from them. They would not fully understand the nature of the kingdom of Christ until revealed to them by the Holy Spirit of God after His resurrection and ascension back into heaven. This we know: all things took place as God had originally designed.