Matthew 20:17-34 Part 1

As you may have already noticed, the first eighteen chapters of Matthew’s Gospel cover certain critical events of the life of Jesus – up until the last week or so.  But beginning with chapter nineteen the apostle relates event after event, and encounter after encounter, and discourse after discourse – all having to do with His proceeding toward Jerusalem, and the crucifixion.

The intensity is obvious, as forty percent of the Gospel is given to the last few days.  As Matthew records Jesus’ words here at the beginning of verse eighteen of our text:


“Lo, we are going into Jerusalem….”


The words are meticulously recorded; every event is remembered.  Every scene that the apostle includes for us is intensified.

Unbelievably huge crowds are following Jesus south, as they traveled the heights of the east bank of the Jordan River.  Hope for healing, and anticipation of a new King of Israel – those were the thoughts of all these many people.

But God’s Messiah was on His triumphant march to Jerusalem to judge and condemn the city and to make atonement for the sins of God’s people.  The Son of God was about to offer the ransom for many – that humanity might be rebirthed; that the world might be saved.

As we pick up at verse seventeen (the beginning of our text this morning), immediately after Jesus’ encounter with the rich, young man of Jerusalem (the subject of which was the nature of man and the requirement that he be made a new creation – creature – in order to have eternal life), Matthew records that He proceeded toward Jerusalem.

And we ought to recognize, right at the outset, that this is not just simply a movement in time – absent of design!  All of the Gospels make it clear that Jesus’ mind was set toward Jerusalem.  The confluence of time and history and events, predestined by the Author and Creator of all, was proceeding toward the crowning event – the Elect and Only Begotten Son of God receiving the stroke.

As the context suggests, the first Adam sinned against God.  And God cursed him; and he died.  And all his posterity were brought into the world in the same condition.  But the Last Adam did not sin against God; yet He (the innocent One) was about to receive the penalty in order that all His posterity would have life!

It was time for that greatest and most awful occurrence in history to take place – when the Son of God would receive the retributive wrath of God the Father.  So He set His face toward Jerusalem – Passover 30 AD – and His predestined rendezvous with the dreadful Judgment of God.


“And proceeding toward Jerusalem…” verse seventeen, “Jesus took aside the twelve privately….”


With thousands around Him and following Him – many wanting to get close enough to be touched and healed – Jesus wished to speak only to the twelve disciples concerning those things which were about to take place.  So He took them aside, away from the crowd, to speak that which He has spoken to them before (recorded twice before us).

Now, if you’ve read the English translations of this verse before, you will probably think that your printed text sounds a little strange.  The King James Version, for example, says that Jesus took them aside in the way.  But the printed text reads this way:


“Jesus took the twelve aside privately, and in the way says to them….”


You see, “in the way” doesn’t refer to Jesus having taken them aside.  “In the way” is especially associated, instead, with His speaking to them.  “And in the way says to them”!  Rather than smoothing out the Greek so that it sounds good to our ears in English, we ought to be translating it as it is and preaching what it says.  In this case the King James and the American Standard Version both interpret the verse in the attempt to make it smooth sounding!  And because of it, the interpretation isn’t right, and the Theological impact of the statement is missed!  Both of the English translations indicate that “the way” has to do with the road or with the trip to Jerusalem.  But that’s not the way the Greek reads, and it certainly isn’t what “in the way” means!

So “in the way, Jesus says to them….”  Not “in the road,” or “on the way to Jerusalem.”  But “in the way, Jesus says to them.”  Now, it is not by accident that the early Church constantly referred to Christianity as “the Way”!  Not only did they have the “fish”, the mnemonic “Ixthus”, as a communication or sign of the Faith, but they also used “the Way” – the term “way” – as a shortened version of the salvation wrought by Christ on the Cross!

Now, the figurative and metaphorical use of “the way” is very strong in the Older Testament – the “way” of God, or the “ways” of God viz a viz the ways of men.  The “way” of the Lord is the walk which God has commanded and which He wills (Deuteronomy eight, six).

But men turn aside from the “ways of God” (Malachi two, nine), and will not know them.  They take other ways – their own (Isaiah fifty-six, eleven).  And it is a very serious thing that God sees all the ways of men, and that man must repent and turn; for God punishes and repays according to the “way”.

Now, although many of the events (not all) of great import in the Gospel take place during travel, the term “in the way” has very little to do with general travel (movement) – except for the procession toward His crucifixion!  And there is a very close metaphorical connection here to the “way” of the Older Testament Law and Prophets, as I said.  And Jesus, in the next chapter of Matthew, chapter twenty-one, is recorded as saying that John the Baptist came preaching the “way of righteousness”.  And the term seems to be used there in connection with what Jesus says concerning His suffering and death!

So when we read verse seventeen, and it says “and in the way Jesus says to them,” we are to understand that the way to be reborn into the Kingdom of God is to follow Jesus in His suffering and crucifixion!  And that’s exactly what Jesus says in verses eighteen and nineteen, isn’t it?


“And in the way Jesus says to them, ‘we are going into Jerusalem.  And Son of Man will be delivered up to the high priests and scribes, and they shall condemn Him to death; and they shall deliver Him to the nations for them to mock and to scourge and to crucify; and the third day He will be raised up.’”


This is what came to be known among the Christian community as “the way” – the Christian Faith.  The “way” of man, the broad way, is to continue to be man-after-the-nature-of-Adam and to particip0ate fully in all of that which is connected to cursed and fallen humanity.

But “the way” of Matthew and the other apostles of Christ, and the Christian community, is the narrow way.  It is the Faith that is connected to what Christ said here – to follow Him to suffering and death and resurrection.  It is the way of rebirth; it is the way of atonement and forgiveness; it is the way of righteousness; it is the way of walking and following after Him in connection with His having been mocked, with His having been scourged, with His having been crucified, and with His having been resurrected the third day!

It is the “way”, according to Hebrews nine, eight, into the sanctuary – the Holy of Holies.  The writer of Hebrews puts it so well in chapter ten.  This is the “way”:


“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus; by a new and living WAY, which He hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh… let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold fast the profession of faith without wavering (for He is faithful Who promised); and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works….”


So the “way” has to do with the flesh and blood of Christ – the Last Adam and the New Man – by which we are cleansed and given access to the Holy Place (before God).  “The way” is to follow Him and to be mocked and humiliated and persecuted in Him and for Him and for His Name; “the way” is to follow Him in His scourging, for “by His stripes we are healed”; “the way” is, as Paul wrote to the Romans: 


“The old man is crucified with Christ that the body of sin be destroyed….”


“And in the way Jesus says to them, ‘we are going into Jerusalem….’”; eis Ierosoloma – into Jerusalem – into the womb of Babylon the harlot, from which proceeds every abomination, “and the Son of Man will be delivered up to the high priests and scribes; and they will condemn Him to death; and they will deliver Him to the nations to mock and to scourge and to crucify; and on the third day He will be raised up.”

“The way” is to follow Jesus, with Him and in Him – to be mocked and humiliated, to be scourged, and to be crucified; and to be raised up out of the abominations of fallen man.  And, by the flesh and blood of the New Man, to be reborn out of that harlot into the Kingdom of God!

Now.  As we look at some of the language and terminology in verse eighteen, the first thing you might notice is that Jesus has once again referred to Himself as “The Son of Man”.  Rather than saying “I will be delivered up to the high priests, and they will condemn Me to death and deliver Me to the nations”, etc., He says that the Son of Man will be delivered up, and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the nations!  So instead of using the first person singular and plural, He begins to refer to the Son of Man in the third person singular – He!

And I remind you of those passages of Scripture in chapters sixteen and seventeen, which we’ve already covered in some detail, in which Jesus tells His disciples that He must go into Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders and priests and scribes, and to be killed, and to be raised on the third day (chapter sixteen, verse twenty-one).  He also says there that they must deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him;


“for The Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father….”; and “there shall be some standing here, which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom.”


Then chapter seventeen, verse twenty-two says this:


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 at the time of preaching those passages of Scripture we said that Jesus was making direct reference to the prophecy of Daniel chapter seven.  And, again, that chapter has to do with Daniel’s great vision of the four world-wide, culture-changing kingdoms of the earth.  And then the fifth King was presented to the Ancient of Days; and He was given dominion, and glory, and a Kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve Him.  His dominion would be an everlasting dominion which would not pass away or be destroyed!  And Daniel said that this last King was like the Son of Man! (Daniel seven, thirteen)  That’s the only occasion in the Older Testament Scriptures where Jesus Christ is prophetically called The Son of Man, so there is no doubt that Jesus’ referring to Himself in this way here in our text is for the purpose of connecting His crucifixion and resurrection to the entire content of Daniel’s night vision!

In other words, the Son of Man, Who is the fifth great King of Daniel’s prophecy, and Who receives everlasting glory and dominion from the Ancient of Days, is the One Whom these disciples are following, and Who will be delivered to the high priests and scribes to be condemned to death; and Who will be delivered to the nations to be mocked and scourged and crucified, and to be raised the third day!  This is the One Who will come in the clouds of heaven (the Glory Cloud of the Father), and be given dominion over all the nations of the earth!

This is the One for Whom they must forsake themselves and the world; this is the One Who they must follow into humiliation and death and resurrection; this is the One Whose shed blood must wash them clean in rebirth; and this is the One Whose flesh is the temple veil into the Holy of Holies – the Throne-Room of the Ancient of Days!

Make the connection you disciples!  Rebirth and entrance into the Kingdom is through the humiliated, mocked, scourged, crucified and resurrected Son of Man!  For how could He win the victory and ransom the world otherwise?  And how could He enter the Throne-Room of the Father and receive glory and dominion otherwise?  And how could we be rebirthed out of our dead humanity otherwise?  The fifth great King of everlasting Glory must come in!  For He is “the Way”.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life; and no man comes unto the Father except by Him.

The Son of God was born unto a virgin; the Son of Man would be resurrected from the dead and returned unto the Father to receive Power and Glory and everlasting Dominion.  Understand and make the connection Peter, and James, and John, and Matthew, “we are going into Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered up….”  Do you not remember Daniel’s prophecy?

This isn’t a Kingdom over which I will rule from Jerusalem; this is a Kingdom which the Son of Man will receive when He returns in the cloud unto the Father!  And the saints of God will then rule and possess the nations for ever and ever and ever! (Daniel seven, eighteen)

For the Son of Man will be the Head of a new humanity, and you will be His body;


“I in you, and you in Me,” and “you shall judge the earth from the thrones of the twelve judges of Israel.”


“All Power is given Me in Heaven and earth; therefore as you are going, make disciples, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost – teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.  And, lo, I Am with you to the end of the age.”


We don’t have the time this morning to do all that I want to do with these three verses – especially concerning the relationship between Jesus’ being “delivered up”, and His being mocked and scourged and crucified; the understanding of these terms and their connections to each other are very important.  But we will do that next time.  And, of course, in about a year – when we come to the actual trial and crucifixion of Christ –there will be a much more detailed exegesis and preaching of those actual events.

For now let’s just begin to look at Jesus’ employment of the word “to mock”.  Verse nineteen says:


“and they shall deliver Him to the nations for them to mock and to scourge and to crucify….”


There is a vast vocabulary of mockery in the Scriptures; to take sport, to play with, to dance around; contempt, scorn, insult, ridicule; violent acts, whistling, spitting, disparaging remarks, deriding; basic hostility and aversion; the enmity of evil for the good!  One of the first examples of mockery was the ridicule that Noah received for a hundred years while he was building the ark.

All three of the synoptic Gospel writers use this word with reference to Jesus, and the mockery comes from all the nations.  The Roman soldiers, for example, not only carried out their orders to execute Jesus, but they ridiculed and reviled Him because He was said to be the Messiah of the Jews.

The hearing before the Jews – the Sanhedrin (scribes, priests) – is also described as mockery in Luke chapter twenty-two, at verses sixty-three through sixty-five.  And the Sanhedrin guards derided Him overnight.  Also Herod, the half-Jew, half-Edomite, and his guards, mocked Him.

And at the crucifixion itself, Jesus was mocked by the high priests and scribes and soldiers.  So “mockery” played a major role in the suffering and humiliation of Jesus.  This morning it has to be enough, because of the time, to say two things about it in preparation for next week.  First, please learn the word “hubris”; for hubris is the arrogant, high-minded, prideful self-esteem of man – especially of the important and the powerful.  It has to do with the haughty, insolent swagger of the wanton pride of man.

And the word “spite”.  With arrogant self-importance, men mock the Revelation of God – especially to “spite” the suffering and crucifixion and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ.  Despite the fact that the Son of Man has ascended His Throne of Glory, men continue to seek their own self-serving ends with their abominations against the King and His people.  They “spite” what He did!  The crucifixion and resurrection of Christ is at the very center of their spite!  That’s what they hate!

But “in the way” Jesus says to us that the Son of Man went into Jerusalem, and He was delivered up to the high priests and the scribes; and He was condemned to death; and He was delivered up to the nations to mock, to scourge and to crucify; and the third day He was raised up.

So, putting away all the “hubris” of mankind, and with no “spite” of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, we now completely submit ourselves to Him – to follow Jesus; to participate in His humiliation; and His death; and He resurrection.  This is the opposite of “hubris” and “spite”.

The Innocent One – the Second Adam – received the penalty.  He became sin for us and was judged for it.  The wrath of Almighty God was poured out on Him, and He took the stroke in our place.

And because He did that, every one of us has an obligation to follow Him and obey Him and honor Him!  He has created humanity anew!  For us!  And it is spite and arrogance and human hubris not to turn from the old dead humanity and follow Him!  It’s almost unimaginable that there would be such contempt in the human heart for the crucified and resurrected Christ….  It can only be described as defiance – and mockery – arising from self-willed audacity and insolence!  You must turn from that and faithfully follow Him and obey Him.

God has promised that if you will turn from this rebellious insubordination, confessing your sin and faithing in His Son, He will include you in all His covenant blessings.