The Gospels – The Gospel According to Matthew
The fate of prophets and Jesus’ prediction of His own death
Matthew 17:10-13 And the disciples asked him, “Then why do the scribes say that first Eli’jah must come?” (11) He replied, “Eli’jah does come, and he is to restore all things; (12) but I tell you that Eli’jah has already come, and they did not know him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of man will suffer at their hands.” (13) Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
Just like the prophets before him in Israel, John the Baptist did not fare better. He was thought to have a demon just because he was strict in his attire and meals. Jesus Himself was not to fare better either. He knew this and He began to prepare His disciples for His imminent departure. He was to be torn so violently from them and He wanted to prepare them inwardly to expect this. He started talking more often about His impending death so that it would not be a surprise to the disciples when it happened.
This takes us to the issue whether Jesus knew beforehand about His death and if He knew why did He not do something about it. Why did the Almighty not do something and save His Son from all this? These are probably legitimate questions and many believers have often racked their brains about this.
Yes, God knew about it and God sees everything. Jesus knew about it as He was descended from God. It did not mean, however, that God sanctioned it. As mentioned earlier, the sufferings and the death of Jesus was already predicted centuries before the event. The prophet Isaiah used the whole of the chapter 53 to describe this event and how Jesus was to fair among mankind.
Such prophecies are given as a warning to people so that those concerned would change for the better and prevent the fulfillment of such visions or prophecies. The same was the case here. At the time that the prophecy was revealed, the spiritual conditions of the inhabitants of Israel was so dark that they had become servants of the darkness instead of what they ought to be: servants of the Light. They had sunk so low that they now served the darkness and could easily be used by the darkness against some messenger from the Light.
It was already the case in Israel that prophets had been stoned to death or tortured. Given this dark spiritual state in which all were in opposition to the Light, it was then not surprising that a Messenger out of God would be furiously opposed by these same people and ultimately do away with this Messenger. The darkness had enough followers in the household of Israel that it could call this household its own and could call on his troops in opposition to anyone who would oppose his reign over this people.
The prophecy therefore which concerned Jesus was revealed to Isaiah, one of their prophets, detailing the events that would surround Jesus when His time comes. Prophecies are not given without a purpose. They are not given for informational purposes only. They are given to be acted upon. Those that these prophecies concerned should have seen this prophecy as a great indictment on their spiritual state and should have changed their ways as a result.
It was ignored, however, and by the time Jesus came, Lucifer’s minions had increased even more. They had increased greatly in number and were now to be found in positions of prominence in the society, including the clergy. How ironic. Since the people of Israel did not use the time to change spiritually before the coming of Jesus, the die was cast and Jesus knew that what had been feared some centuries earlier and against which a warning had been given was now a distinct possibility.
The reason why He still came in spite of the dangers goes to show the desperate spiritual plight of the human beings who were still good and longed for God. In the midst of all the darkness, there were still a minority who in spite of the persecutions of those who do not long for the Light still sought God and His Kingdom. These people would have had to go down into perdition with the others under the actions of the Divine Wrath. They would have had to go down in spite of their pure volition if no way was shown to them about how to adjust their lives to God.
The prophets of old had tried but failed in this. They were always persecuted and in fact their words were no longer strong enough to awaken mankind from the sleep of death which had gripped many a soul. The darkness surrounding man was so great that it would have been impossible for any earthly prophet to make any impact. Someone stronger was needed. Someone so powerful that He could burst asunder the dark night of the soul.
It was God Himself through His undimmed Word Who offered this possibility. The darkness surrounding the spirits was that desperate and perdition would have followed irretrievably. But good human beings would have been lost in the process. This the Justice of God would never permit. So for the sake of this few who were still longing for God, Jesus still came down with His Word. This is the reason He came and this is the sacrifice that He gave.
Only the Love of God is capable of accomplishing such a deed. Instead of acknowledging these facts and thanking God for His inexpressible Love and Mercy, many will hold forth to their taught beliefs.
So in spite of all the dangers, He still came. It was now left to the people of Israel to use their free wills to either accept or reject Him. They will, however, have to account for the use of their free will in this manner.
God placed His Laws in Creation. Jesus will fulfill His Mission in spite of all earthly dangers. Jesus in incarnating accepted to place Himself under all the Laws of His Father. These Laws also are operative on this earth. If the people of Israel decided to reject Him and even plot to kill Him, so be it. God does not intervene to change the wills of men. He will never interfere with the decisions of men. Men have a free will but they must bear all the consequences resulting from the use of this will.
God will not suddenly change the wills of the people of Israel or perhaps bring Jesus from the cross. That would be an arbitrary act. There was no question of Jesus coming down from the Cross unless He had physical help. That is the Law of Creation and God will never act contrary to His Own Laws. He is Perfect and perfection means immutability. No change. The physical laws state that it would be impossible to come down from a cross in a crucifixion unless there was physical help available to the crucified person. Jesus also had to obey this law since it was one of the Laws in Creation of which He was a Part.
If the people of Israel had taken that prophecy to heart and changed for the better, then their religion would have developed in such a way that people with spiritual insight would be the ones in the clergy and not the intellectuals which happened to be the case. These people with spiritual insight would immediately have recognized Jesus as the prophesied Messiah and Jesus’ Life and Mission would have had a different outcome. In fact many people recognized Him as the Messiah but not among the generality of the ruling classes who held both political and religious power.
Why did He not flee some will ask? Why did He not tell the priests what they wanted to hear? Make peace and be done with it? Let it be said that a confrontation was inevitable. To have fled would have defeated the purposes of His Mission. First He was sent to accomplish His Mission among the people of Israel because still in spite of their stiff-necked nature, they still bore the greatest possibility for the understanding of His Words. Secondly, He had achieved so much in the souls of the people that to flee would have undermined the purpose of it all. The people would have begun to doubt Him and that would have completely undermined the Work of Redemption.
Also when the confrontation came and he was asked about His Origin, to have denied this would have been disastrous. Everything He had worked for and all the beliefs of His followers rested on this very fact. It was then not surprising that that was what the darkness wanted to use most against Him. When He refused to deny His Origin and even reaffirmed it, the priest tore his clothes and declared a verdict of death.
He could have saved Himself by denying His Origin but this would have been going against His Own teaching where He said that we should never fear those who can only destroy the body but fear Him Who can destroy body and spirit. It was the last trump card played by the darkness hoping that Jesus, at the threat of physical suffering and death would deny His Origin. This would have completely destroyed His Work and the seeds of Salvation that He had already planted in the souls of the believers would have been destroyed.
He, however, vanquished the darkness completely. He was prepared to die for what He believed in and laid down His Life so that His Message might be preserved for posterity. His Teaching would have disappeared completely and He would have been a footnote in history if He had fled or denied His Origin.
He died so that the way to Salvation might be open to us through His Word. He died so that we might continue to have His Word and if we act accordingly Salvation will be ours. His Word will be the germinating mustard seed or the yeast in the large body of dough, which if acted upon will spread within us and force the darkness to loosen its grip on us. This is what He died for. In the hope that mankind might adhere to His Word.
What then do we have today? Have mankind adhered to His Word? Only a very few people used the Message of Jesus for the salvation of their own souls. The vast majority, including the leaders simply followed in the example of Israel. They formed a religion out of the Word of Jesus.