31 Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things which are written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished. 32 For He will be handed over to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and mistreated and spit upon, 33 and after they have scourged Him, they will kill Him; and the third day He will rise again.” 34 But the disciples understood none of these things, and the meaning of this statement was hidden from them, and they did not comprehend the things that were said.
One of the things about the gospels is that they aren’t concerned with a precisely linear series of events. So Jesus doesn’t necessarily transition from talking about the rewards waiting for His followers to the topic of His crucifixion. There was probably time between the two events.
So Jesus pulls the twelve aside one day. This message isn’t for the crowds. It’s for His closest friends. The ones who are going to lead when He is gone, and this little aside is about the Master preparing the apprentices for the future. He won’t be there.
So He explains what will happen. He’s going to Jerusalem to fulfill the things written about Him in the Old Testament. If you’re interested in the prophesies in the Old Testament concerning the crucifixion, most Christian scholars agree that Psalm 22 is a good place to start:
The words echoed by Christ while on the cross:
Psalm 22:1 – My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.
The mocking of the crowds:
Psalm 22:6 – But I am a worm and not a man, A reproach of men and despised by the people. 7 All who see me sneer at me; They separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, 8 “Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.”
The description of the torments He would endure:
Psalm 22:14 I am poured out like water, And all my bones are out of joint; My heart is like wax; It is melted within me. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And my tongue cleaves to my jaws; And You lay me in the dust of death. 16 For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I can count all my bones. They look, they stare at me; 18 They divide my garments among them, And for my clothing they cast lots.
And, of course, Isaiah 53:
3 He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.4 Surely our griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. 6 All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him.7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.8 By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9 His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.10 But the Lord was pleased To crush Him, putting Him to grief; If He would render Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand. 11 As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors.
That could have been written by an Early Church Father for how spot on it is with early Christian orthodoxy regarding the death of Christ and the doctrine of salvation.
Simon Peter making the first sermon in Acts 2, relates Psalm 16:10 to the resurrection of Jesus:
Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.
There are others, but I’ll leave that to your own research. It’s all interesting. And, assuming the writers of the gospel are being honest in their accounts of the life of Christ, pretty convincing.
Christ was not surprised by the events that happened later in Jerusalem. He knew about them ahead of time and He told His friends about them to comfort them. Things were about to happen that would hurt them to their very core. They would be afraid. They would be rudderless. They would be confused. They would feel betrayed and they would feel guilt for betraying Him by fleeing from Him or denying Him.
Jesus wanted to let them know that He was still in control. He was in control of even death itself. And it would not hold Him for long. There was comfort to be found in that. We live in fear of death. Christ would beat it. In so doing, He would share His new life with us.
But the disciples didn’t understand His fairly straightforward talk with them. Maybe they thought He was joking or was tired or was confused. They would be taken by surprise. They would be shaken. And it would only be later after the resurrection that they would finally understand.