Matthew 20:17-34 Part 3

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


Before we are permitted to leave these three glorious verses there are a number of additional things which need exposition – which is to be expected since this statement by our Lord to the disciples is concerning “the Way” of salvation.

In the first two sermons we saw that Jesus Christ was delivered up by His Father to be mocked and scourged and crucified by the nations which were gathered together against Him.  And we made the connection to Psalm two, which is a remarkable portion of Scripture having to do with the prophecy concerning those very events.

And now I would call your attention to the fact of the condemnation of Jesus by the high priests and the scribes.  Jesus says, in verse eighteen, that the Son of Man will be delivered up to the high priests and the scribes, and they will condemn Him to death!

Now, the word “condemn” is the word “to judge”, with a prepositional prefix attached to it.  That’s what the Greeks did.  In order to change the meaning or nuance of a word a little bit, they attached a preposition to it.  “To judge” is the Greek word krino; and the prefix kata (with the idea of “down”) is attached to it to make the word katakrino – “to judge down”; the word means “to condemn”.

We’ve seen the word “to judge” a number of times already in the exposition of Matthew, haven’t we? – including in the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus said “judge not lest you be judged”.  And during the preaching of that passage we came to understand that God’s people are to be the “judges” of the earth – under Christ; that there is a supreme and absolute standard by which all judgment is to be made.  It is not the “highest standard”; it is the only standard of what is true and right!  In other words, all things – all words, all ideas, all actions of men – are to be seen in the light of God’s eternal Word.

And the Light of absolute Truth is to be shined upon sin and darkness and falsehood – wherever they are – exposing them for what they are!  It all is to be judged by the only Standard of Truth there is – what God said.

What Jesus commanded, then, in the Sermon of the Mount, was for us to use no other standard for judgment!  Any criticism, reprimand, rebuke, chiding, or confrontation or approval had better not be according to our personal standards – it had all better be according to God’s Word, and for His Glory, and for the Good of God’s people, or the one judging will be severely judged!  (And remember that Jesus has already warned His disciples not to “think down on”, or devalue, another newborn babe in Christ!)  We must be judges in the image of the Judge of Heaven and Earth.  We must not devalue what God has made and what belongs to Him by using our own standard to judge it!  When we do that, we put ourselves in God’s place and value our own judgment to be equal (or even better)!

Rather we are to bring God’s absolute Truth against whatever is in opposition to it.  All else is to be judged by it.  And, in doing that, we elevate God and His Word above all else, putting down what is false – submitting it to the Light of Truth.  That’s what it means for us to be judges of the earth!  Judge not (with your own standard) lest you be judged.

Now.  Bringing all of that forward to our text this morning, the high priests and scribes condemned the Son of Man to death.  They judged down.  They placed themselves above God’s Word Made Flesh; they judged the Fullness of Truth to be under (katakrino) their own authority, and reckoned Him to be worthy only of death!  By their own authority, they condemned Him!

They made a judgment that there was to be a complete separation between themselves and the Fullness of God’s Word – placing themselves in the seat of absolute truth, and putting God in their place – i.e. worthy of destruction.  As Paul said, “and they exchanged the Truth for a lie”.  They exchanged places with God!  “And they shall condemn Him to death,” Jesus said.  The high priests and scribes of Israel, who were themselves condemned to death by God, would assume the authority of God and condemn Him to death!  By their own standard they judged themselves to be righteous; and, by that same standard, they judged the Son of Man as unworthy to live!

But, again, as we take the final step here, the Creator cannot be mocked by the creature!  God the Father, for the love of His creation and His people, has condemned His Own Son to death!  He is the One Who has issued the condemnation.  So where does that leave the high priests and scribes of the Jerusalem Sanhedrin?  Jesus says here that the Son of Man will be delivered up to them, and they will condemn Him to death.

By insinuating themselves into the high seat of judgment, by judging themselves to be righteous and the Messiah to be worthy of death, they will condemn the One Who is already condemned!  They will condemn Him for blasphemy in order to rid the world of Him; but God has already condemned Him in order to save the world!  They will condemn Him as a Law-breaker; but God has already condemned Him as a Law-Keeper!  They think they have condemned an outlaw; but God has already condemned Him as the Savior!

Jesus was the Elect Lamb of God from the beginning; but by exchanging the Truth for a lie, the high priests and scribes condemned the Messiah of God – thereby doing the predestined will of God!  So it is inane and absurd for the creature to be defiant and insubordinate, isn’t it?  Rebellion against God’s Authority – wishing to be one’s own authority – is truly laughable to God.

When we see others in complete rebellion against God’s Law, it is a pitiable thing.  The self-serving, high-minded arrogance which is exhibited by them is from the pride of being one’s own authority.  But God mocks it and ridicules it – this high-minded creature who is deluded with the pride of life, who thinks he’s self-contained and free of constraints.  There is no man who can sever the cord from the Creator and become a non-creature!  It’s impossible to remove one’s self from His Authority!  He does what He wills with His Own creatures.

Now, the same thing is also true of us who are reborn into Christ, isn’t it? – as we battle the “old man” every day.  None of us possess immunity from the sin of Adamic humanity!  We are continually warned in Scripture to put ourselves under the Authority of the Spirit of Christ.

But lo and behold, there he is – that old man of the flesh.  Over and over and over we criticize and devalue our brothers and sisters in Christ; we judge one another with personal likes and dislikes (scruples).  With pompous self-admiration we are envious and jealous of each other; we use humor and innuendo to lower another and raise ourselves in our own esteem – and I’m certain that the blows of criticism and reproach and censure are even heavier than that in private.

We don’t condemn each other to death!  That’s far too drastic in a “Christian” atmosphere; but just how far down the line is it (from condemnation) to become our own authority and judge each other by our own standards?

We seem to come out from under God’s authoritative covering almost at will in order to “club” someone over there, or to “nibble around the edges” over here.  And then we sneak back under – using “righteousness” as a cloak to hide behind!

But we can’t hide from God!  We can’t use the Body of Christ as a safe haven from which we venture out and “judge down” on each other!  The high priests and scribes shrouded themselves in righteousness; but, underneath, they were judges by their own standards.  They had come completely out from under the authority of God and His Revelation, becoming their own authority; and they condemned the Son of Man to death!  But God knew them intimately.  He looked upon them with ridicule and mocking.  How absurd they were – this people who were a law unto themselves!

And I ask you once again:  how far down the line from the condemnation of Christ do you have to go in order to find the old man of sin… sneaking out from behind a profession of faith in Christ to judge down on a brother!  The way I read my Bible, it’s better to condemn the old man of sin.  The old personally-installed authority, the “self”, is the one who needs to be killed – not your brother.  Jesus said you may not “think down” on your brother (or sister) in Christ by your own standard.  He, or she, belongs to God, and God is His Judge!  Not you!

So Jesus tells His disciples that the Son of Man will be condemned to death by the high priests and the scribes.  We’ve spent enough time on the priests and scribes of Israel in the past, and we have an entire chapter on them coming up; so I’m not going to comment any more on them here.

But we do need to look at the last phrase of verse nineteen.  Please note that it does not say, “and on the third day He shall be raised up….”  It does not say “and in the third day He shall be raised up…”  It does not say “and He shall be raised up in three days….”  It says, simply, “and the third day He will be raised up.”

This is important for the understanding of the time period in which Jesus remained in the realm of death.  He entered death late on Friday afternoon, remained there through the old Sabbath, Saturday, and was raised up early on the first day of the week.  So the total number of hours He spent in Hades, or death, was closer to thirty-six than it was to three full days – or seventy-two hours.  But we’ll explore some of these things some more when we come to the actual events of the crucifixion and resurrection.

And a part of that, which I’m very excited about doing, is an exposition of the Law of the Offerings; for it is in His Law that we find the Fullness of God’s Messiah!

But this morning we need to spend a few minutes on this term:  “the third day”.  As you know, there are “shadows” of the resurrection of Christ all through the Scriptures.  For example, even though the “sign of Jonah” concerns the repentance of, and God’s forgiveness of, the Gentiles, there is a shadow of the resurrection involved in Jonah coming up from the deep – in the belly of the whale – the third day.

As another example, although the central truth of Abraham’s commanded sacrifice of his son Isaac was His faith in God’s promise for a “seed”, there is still a shadow of the resurrection in the fact that Abraham saw the holy mountain where the sacrifice was to take place… on the “third day” of his trip.

But there are many other, more concrete, foreshadowings of “the third day” resurrection of Christ in the Older Testament Scriptures.

Just consider what the Scripture says when the Law was given to Moses on Mt. Sinai….  Moses was instructed by God that all of Israel was to be sanctified – to wash themselves and their clothes – and to stand at the foot of the mountain (but not to touch it or they would die) and wait for Yahveh to appear on the mountain the third day!  Then Moses writes that the Glory-cloud/Throne-room of God (that we see so clearly described in the vision of Ezekiel) came down to the mountain, the third day, with all the sights and sounds of the Presence of God; and the Law was given to Moses.  There is an absolute connection here with the resurrection of Christ Who is the Fullness and Perfection of the Law.  Hopefully we will be able to hear an expansion of that, too, at a later date.

Now, God instructed Moses in great detail concerning the offerings and sacrifices that were to be made; all, in their great variety, significant of the many-faceted sacrifice of the Lamb of God to come.

Listen, for example, to the Law in Leviticus chapter seven:


“…the remainder of the flesh of the (peace offering) sacrifice shall be burned with fire the third day.  If any of the flesh of the sacrifice of the peace offerings be eaten at all the third day, it shall not be accepted, neither shall it be imputed unto him that offers it; it shall be an abomination, and the person that eats it shall bear his iniquity.”


You see, the Law of the Offerings unconditionally restricted the “third day” eating of the sacrifice, because the third day is the day of the resurrection of Christ!  All of the sacrificial system will have been terminated at the resurrection, because the “Once Offering” of God will have been completed!  There will be no more need for sacrifice!  And if one continues to kill and eat, it is an abomination before God!

In the light of that, just think of the condemnation and judgment which will come upon the Church if dispensationalists get their way, and the temple is eventually rebuilt in Jerusalem, and the sacrifices are reinstituted!  That will be an abomination of cosmic proportions, for the Law considers it “abomination” to eat after the third day resurrection!

In Numbers chapter nineteen God’s Law required those who had become defiled with anything concerning death to be sprinkled, the third day, with water and the ashes of the whole burnt offering.  Otherwise they were to be separated from the congregation!  That was obviously a sign of the crucifixion of the Son of Man – the third day to be raised!  There is no cleansing, there is no forgiveness from the defilement of death, outside of His death and resurrection.  There is an enormous connection here between the third day resurrection and the sign of baptism.

Now lastly, we’ve mentioned the prophecy of Hosea a number of times – especially with regard to the sanctity of marriage, and marriage being a sign of faithfulness to God.  Hosea was the prophet to whom it was given by God to have a wife of whoredom.  Her promiscuity outside the marriage to Hosea was a living prophecy of Israel’s adultery with pagan nations and their gods.

But after the proclamation of Israel’s destruction because of her unfaithfulness, we hear these words at the beginning of chapter six:


“Come and let us return unto the Lord; for He has torn, and He will heal us; He has smitten, and He will bind us up.  After two days He will vivify us; the third day He will raise us up, and we will live in His sight….”


Now this is a direct prophecy of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the resurrection of His people In Him.  Israel is dead in sin – in her harlotries and adulteries.  But God will have a people for Himself – a New Israel.  And the third day they will be raised up from the dead in God’s Messiah!  The Resurrection is the hope of mankind, for without it man cannot have life.

There are also several Gospel references to the third day resurrection, including the marriage at Cana!  John is careful to state that the marriage was “the third day”.  And it was the day that Jesus made the excellent wine for the wedding feast.  So there is an indisputable link between the betrothing of God’s people to Himself, the wine of the New Covenant, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.  Again, there is enormous connection between the third day resurrection and the sign of the covenant.

Our text this morning is similar to that of the other synoptic Gospels; except Luke mentions something the other two don’t.  And that is, that the disciples understood none of this.  But Christ was rooting them in the Older Testament Law and Prophets so that when all these things took place, by His Spirit these things would have root in God’s Word.  And then they would know, beyond doubt, that He was the Son of Man – Who was delivered up to the high priests and scribes who condemned Him to death; and He was delivered to the nations to mock and to scourge and to crucify; and the third day He was raised up.  And the Church was raised up in Him to life from the dead.

Next Lord’s Day, the request for special authority, power and privilege in a revived judaistic kingdom.