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Luke 18:31-34 – A Passion Prediction

On the final leg of the journey to Jerusalem, a journey which began in 9:27, Jesus makes a passion prediction. The word ‘passion’ here is of Latin origin meaning ‘suffering’. Thus, Jesus is predicting his forthcoming suffering in Jerusalem.

Jesus regards his suffering as a fulfilment of everything that was written about him in the Old Testament prophets. What will happen is known to Jesus because it is written. God has previously revealed it to his prophets. It was known to God, not because he looked down the timeline, but because God had sovereignly decreed what was to take place – he knew it because he knew what he was planning to do. There is no accident here or God making this most of a bad situation – Jesus suffers according to the will of God.

Jesus’ suffering is first described in terms of his being delivered over to the Gentiles. Literally this could be translated as ‘handed over to the nations’. This is Old Testament language. When Israel rebelled and acted wickedly it is repeatedly said that they were handed over to the nations. Jesus is therefore about to suffer but what he suffers is what Israel experienced when they experienced the judgment of God in being handed over to the nations and exiled. In a similar way, Jesus will experience the judgment of God and death (of which exile was an image). However, unlike Israel’s case, Jesus experiences judgment not for his own rebellion and wickedness but as our representative substitute. The language of being mocked, shamefully treated and spat upon reflects the experience of a son of David as he is defeated and given into the hands of the nations. However, Jesus’ passion prediction also includes his being raised on the third day – exile and death will not be the final word.

The disciples’ reaction is that the fail to understand Jesus’ words. The reason in the text is because what was said was ‘hidden from them’. Literally is was covered and they were unable to see. The problem of spiritual blindness requires a solution that will be presented in the next periscope.

Jesus will suffer on Good Friday in fulfillment of God’s Old Testament purpose. His suffering is an expression of God’s judgment on rebellion and wickedness, but Christ suffers on behalf of others. This can only be understood when one is not spiritually blind, otherwise, it remains covered.