Matthew 20:17-34 Part 2

The Lord Jesus Christ, at the point of telling His disciples of the Rock upon which the Church was to be built, began to show them that He must go into Jerusalem and be delivered into the hands of the chief priests and the scribes, and suffer many things, and be condemned to death; and that He would be raised on the third day.  (chapter sixteen, verse twenty-one)

Apparently He told this to His disciples many times, for this came to be known as “the Way”; the Way of righteousness; the way into the Kingdom; the Way of God; the Way of salvation.  As our text this morning indicates, Jesus took His disciples aside privately, and “in the way” He says to them:


“lo, we are going into Jerusalem, and the Son of Man (Daniel’s fifth King, the King of the everlasting Kingdom) will be delivered up to the high priests and scribes, and they will condemn Him to death; and they shall deliver Him up to the nations to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify; and He shall be raised on the third day.”


This is “the Way” for man to be reborn out of His cursed humanity – to follow Jesus in suffering and humiliation, and in crucifixion, and in resurrection.

“The Way” was not to be understood as the Messiah being installed as the ruler of the world from Jerusalem and giving men political power with which to carry out policy.  “The Way” is by the suffering and death and resurrection of the Son of Man – the fifth King – King of the everlasting Kingdom.  That’s what defines the New Covenant people.  The suffering and death and resurrection of Christ encompasses the entirety of the salvation of humanity.  It is the definitive act of the Last Adam; because man had to have a New Covenant Adam in order to survive the judgment of God!

So this morning, in anticipation of those events to come in later texts, we spend some time with the words of Jesus which came to be known in the Christian community as “the Way”.

Just as our time was running out last Lord’s Day we started to look at the Bible’s vocabulary of “mockery”.  Jesus has said to His disciples that the high priests and scribes would condemn Him to death and “deliver Him to the nations to mock, to scourge and to crucify….”  The object of mocking is to humiliate.  Children, for example, yet knowing no boundaries of civility, crush and humiliate other children by aping and mimicking each other.  And they’re all born with a superb sense of how to ridicule.  And they find, without any trouble at all, every vulnerability, and every weakness, and every idiosyncrasy which can be taken advantage of!  And they hold back nothing; and they don’t take prisoners!  They all have this idea of self which requires them to mortify the others into subjection!  So the one who can humiliate the others the best, is the one who has preeminence.

Now, I use the “children” example because, as I said, the boundaries of civility aren’t developed yet.  So the human nature is right out in the open.  Plus the fact that little children don’t yet have the real power to tyrannize, so the harm is relatively innocuous.

But, all the same, the sin is just as real as in adults.  Adults do the same thing.  Except societal norms and civility and civil law play a big role; therefore, in usual circumstances, adults will subject others to mortifying humiliation in a much more sophisticated and deceptive way!  And the damage is not innocuous – it’s sometimes very harmful.

But the point is, here, that the more important and powerful one is, the less restraint there is on the human nature to put others under mortifying and humiliating control!  This is where the word “hubris” is applicable.  It is an insolent and spiteful disgracing of others, by the exercise of greatness or power, for the purpose of demonstrating self-gratifying, personal eminence!  And the more powerful one is (and the less restraint there is on civility) the greater the tendency to go beyond the law in making another person irrelevant!

It is clearly seen in the earliest years of childhood; but it is exhibited, at its most vicious level, by those who are able to wield the most unrestricted power – tyrants.  But at every level of the development of fallen, cursed humanity, human beings will belittle, disgrace and dehumanize and humiliate his neighbor for the spiteful purpose of his own self-eminence.  That’s what the word “mocking” indicates here in our text.  “The Son of Man will be delivered over to the nations to mock….”

The high priests and the scribes, Herod the Edomite king of Israel, Pilate the Roman ruler of Jerusalem, the soldiers who were selected to carry out the execution, and the crowd of people from all over the world which selected Him to die; they all eagerly and spitefully debased Jesus Christ Who was said to be the Messiah/King of Israel.  With great hubris, and with unrestricted demonstration of personal power and self-eminence, they gleefully mocked the Son of Man – debasing and humiliating Him.  They went completely outside any restraint of civility or law to make Him a joke – to invalidate Him; to make Him irrelevant.  To dehumanize Him.

When we come to the actual events of Jesus’ trial, we’ll deal with the specifics of the mockery.  But, for now, I’ll mention only the fact of God’s mockery.  The mockery of the nations against God’s Prophet, Priest and King must be seen in the light of His mockery of them!

Psalm two, among a number of others, is a prime example of that.  It has to do with the nations gathering together against God and His Messiah.  It is a prophecy of what is about to occur in the text.  And, as verse two says:


“He that sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision….”


The point here is that while the nations were mocking Christ, God was mocking them!  While the kings and rulers and powerful men of the earth were making the Messiah irrelevant, they were the ones who were irrelevant!

The difference in the mockery was simply the source of the mockery.  The creation mocked the Creator! And there’s nothing so laughable!  The hubris of the powerful, the rulers – to mock the salvation of the earth; but the trick was on them, for God had predestined it all!  I’ll say some more about that in a few minutes when it’s all tied together with Jesus’ having been delivered up to these things.

Secondly, Jesus says that the Son of Man will be delivered up to the nations to mock and to scourge….  Please note that Jesus was not scourged by the high priests in the synagogue.  As the first verse of chapter nineteen of the book of John says, the Roman governor, Pilate, scourged Him.  Actually he had his soldiers do it.

The scourging of the Jews in the synagogue was a whipping for breaking the law.  It was limited to forty lashes, by law, and the high priests mandated thirty-nine just in case there was a miscounting.  The limitation to forty lashes (as a punishment for many lawbreakers) was for the purpose of maintaining human dignity.  More than that was to treat humanity as animals.  It was de-humanizing.

But Roman Law knew no such limitations.  The treatment of humans as beasts (or worse) was commonplace.  Pilate, the Roman governor of Jerusalem, in order to keep from crucifying Jesus, scourged Him for the purpose of satisfying the Jews!  If He received a good scourging under Roman Law, maybe they would let it go at that!

But the Roman scourging, by multiple leather straps tipped with metal or bone and attached to a handle, was so awful that Domitian, emperor of Rome, was horrified by it.  A man was whipped until the flesh hung in strips from his back and his front!  (But I’m digressing into the events to come later.)

Now, the scourging was necessary as a beginning to the shedding of blood.  For without the shedding of human blood, there is no satisfaction for sin.  In the passive obedience and shedding of the blood of God’s Anointed, there is atonement.  As Isaiah prophesied (chapter fifty-three):


“…surely He has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.”


As Jesus has said to His disciples, He must go into Jerusalem and be delivered up to the nations… to scourge….  “The nations!”  The Roman empire conglomeration of all people of the civilized world, set itself against God and His Messiah.  And they humiliated Him; made a joke of Him.  And they scourged Him until His blood flowed all over His body.

Jesus also said to His disciples that He would be delivered up to the nations… to crucify.  The “stauron” – the cross – was an upright wooden stake set in the ground.  And the one to be crucified carried the beam to the place where the stake was.  Then he was nailed by the hands (wrists) to the beam, which was set on top of the upright stake.  Then the feet were nailed to the stake.

The Roman emperor Cicero called this the ultimate capital punishment, and it was done in extreme cases for the purpose of maintaining order.  Jewish law did not prescribe crucifixion.  For idolaters and blasphemers, stoning was the punishment.  And in Deuteronomy twenty-one we find the penal Law which was carried out in the Crucifixion.  Verse twenty reads:


“And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he be to be put to death, and you hang him on a tree, His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged on a tree is accursed of God), that your land be not defiled which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance.”


So after the death penalty was carried out (stoning) according to God’s Law, a blasphemer or idolater was to be hanged on a tree to demonstrate that he was accursed of God.  And I’m very sure that the chief priests and scribes and people of Israel took great delight in the fact that this man named Jesus was nailed to a “stauron” up on a hill for all to see.  For, in their minds, He was surely a cursed man – a blasphemer who was said to be prophet, priest and king of Israel.

Now.  Jesus has said to His disciples that The Son of Man was going into Jerusalem to be delivered up to the chief priests and the scribes, and they would condemn Him to death; and they would deliver Him to the nations to mock, to scourge, and to crucify; and the third day He would be raised up.

From this point I want us to relate the condemnation, the mocking, the scourging and the crucifixion to the fact that Jesus was “delivered up”.  Please take note of the language:  “The Son of Man will be delivered up….”  It’s future passive; it will be done to Him.

And please listen carefully to the prophet Isaiah as we go back to chapter fifty-three:


“Yet it pleased God to crush Him; He hath put Him to grief; when He shall make Him a guilt offering, He shall see seed, and He shall prolong days; and the pleasure of God shall prosper in His hand.  He shall see His suffering and shall be satisfied….”


You see, it was God the Father Who would deliver Jesus over to be condemned and mocked and scourged and crucified; the condemnation came from God; the mocking came from God; the scourging came from God; the final stroke on the cross came from God.  The Father cursed His Son whose only reason for being born a man was to bring glory to His Father.  He never did anything but bring honor to His Father.  But God cursed Him, and condemned Him to death, and mocked Him, and scourged Him, and crucified Him.  He hanged Him on a tree to show He was accursed!  And it pleased and satisfied Him to do those things to Him, because of His “seed”, Isaiah says.  Because of those covenant seed who would be reborn and inherit life in Him!  God was satisfied and pleased with the guilt offering of His Own Son, for the sake of the seed!

So when Jesus told His disciples that He was going into Jerusalem “to be delivered up”, He meant that He would be delivered up by His Father!  The Lamb of God was being led to the slaughter by His Own Father.

Now, with that in mind, let’s go back to the gathering of the nations against God and His Anointed One (Psalm two).  Is it any wonder that God would be laughing at them and holding them in derision?  As the high priests of Israel mocked Jesus and condemned Him to death, it’s certainly no surprise that God would hold them in great contempt – since He is the One Who delivered Him up and mocked Him and condemned Him to death!

It is God who delivered Jesus up to be mocked, and Who shed His blood in scourging; is it any wonder that God laughingly scorned the mighty and the powerful who, with great hubris, humiliated Jesus and caused Him great pain?

And it is God Who provided the final stroke at the cross, Who cursed Him, and who sent Him into the deep of Hades (death); so what are we to say of Pilate and Herod and Annas and Caiaphus and the soldiers and people of every nation who, as Psalm two says, sought to sever any relation to God by killing His Messiah!  The nations raged and gathered together against Him; but God scorned them, and disdained them and humiliated them and mocked them – for He had predestinated the time, and the place, and the people.  It was laughable that they should consider themselves so mighty and so important that they could condemn and mock and scourge and crucify God’s Prophet, Priest and King!  How ridiculous man’s independent plans must be to God.  The more independent we are, the more mocking it is to God and His Messiah; and the more laughable it is to God.  It is ridiculous, isn’t it, for us to think that we can sever the cord between the creature and the predestinating, electing Sovereignty of Almighty God!

The last statement of verse nineteen:  “…and the third day He will be raised up...” we will leave to next Lord’s Day.  But we are now to participate in the sign and seal of God’s covenant mercy in Christ.

Please listen now to the Scriptures – how they connect us to Christ Who was delivered up by the Father for us:


“…Him Who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered up for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.”  (Romans four, twenty-five)


“He Who spared not His Own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things!”  (Romans eight, thirty-two)


“…the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”  (Romans eight, twenty-one)


“…The Father… Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated (rebirthed) us into the Kingdom of the Son of His love.”  (Colossians one, thirteen)


“Then is the end, when He shall have delivered up the Kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet….”  (First Corinthians fifteen, twenty-four)


“For we who live are always being delivered up unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh.”  (Second Corinthians four, eleven)


“For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, ‘that the Lord Jesus, the night in which He was delivered up took bread….”  (First Corinthians eleven, twenty-three)


We who are alive in Him are truly always being delivered up unto death, aren’t we?  Not only are we going to die physically; but we are dying to sin and the “old man”.  We are dying, according to Paul, to the curse of the Law as we live under the authority of the Spirit of Christ.

And each and every time we are mocked and humiliated for the Faith, we are being delivered up unto death for Christ’s sake, in order that His life might be made manifest in our flesh.

And every occasion in which we come to the table of our Lord we signify and seal that we are delivered up into the suffering and humiliation and death of God’s Messiah.  He was delivered up by His Father for us; and He was raised on the third day; and now we are delivered up in Him and resurrected in Him unto new life.

And now, lastly, as we come to the table that our Lord instituted on the night in which He was delivered up, there are a few things that I would like for you to consider.

First, as we think about all the things we’ve learned about “the Rock”, and the “River of Water” that flows from that Rock unto all the nations of the world, it ought to be with great joy that our Lord has “joined together” many people from all nations in His new humanity.  By His grace and mercy Gentiles everywhere have received His salvation.  And we’re no longer members of that fallen humanity from which we’ve been so freely removed.

Secondly, our Lord’s instruction to His apostles was that, as the Gospel of Christ’s salvation was preached to the nations, they were to baptize them (including their children).  Place the “mark of Christ” on them.  It is the mark of the outpouring of His Spirit on the nations.  It is the River of Living Water which, if you drink, you shall never die.  Baptize them.  And, then, teach them to obey.  He is King of the nations; they are to receive His mark.  And they are to be taught to obey their King.  By the “mark”; and by their obedience, they are identified.

Thirdly, there is a “unity” in this new humanity.  We’ll speak about this many times, but Jesus said that all who belong to Him are “in Him”, and He in them, and we in God.  It is a brotherhood in Christ.  We are “His body”.  We are no longer the “body” of Adam.  We no longer belong to the race of Adam….  We are the body of Christ the Savior of humanity!  And all who bear His “mark” (baptism) have access to His table, where we “remember” Him and receive “nourishment” in His body!

At the same time, the apostle Paul put some “stipulations” on that access.  Although all of us who are baptized are members of His covenant of salvation (which includes all of our children), the letter to the Church of Corinth chastises the Church for its sacramental practices.  Members who have more don’t separate themselves from those who have less; members of one race (Jewish members, for example) don’t separate themselves from other races (Gentiles, for example); and vice-versa!  There are no races in the body of Christ!

And you don’t come to His table in a party spirit either… gorging yourselves and drinking too much.  Paul said that if you’re hungry, eat at home!  This is a solemn event!  This is to feast on the nourishment of His body… not to fill your own!

And also, even if you’re a baptized member of His covenant, you’re expected to examine yourselves (and your children).  If you’re out of accord with your brother; or if you’re in rebellion against God’s Commandments, then you need to get it straight before you come!  And that requires self-examination and repentance.  Otherwise you may be eating and drinking judgment unto yourself.