Today's Reading: Luke 18:31-43
Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again." (Luke 18:31-33)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. You don't get more direct than that. Jesus flat out tells His disciples what is about to go down. And they don't understand. People still don't understand. People still try to find some other reason for what happened to Jesus. People want some other explanation of what Jesus is all about. People refuse to acknowledge a God who could let these things happen. If God is God, how can He suffer and die?
Jesus tells His disciples these things ahead of time so that later on, after He is risen, they will realize and understand what it was all about. Jesus had to suffer these things, not for His own sake but for ours. He endures them for you. To accomplish all things for you. To accomplish your salvation.
The church is about to head into the season of Lent, the season in which we see Jesus head determinedly to the cross. It's a reminder that when it all comes down to it, the Christian faith is this: Jesus' suffering and death to take away our sins. That's what it's about.
All preaching, all teaching, your Baptism, Absolution, the Supper--all of it; our worship, our liturgy, our hymns, our prayers--all of it; all of it is this: Jesus suffering and dying for sinners. In your place. On your behalf. For you. To rise again and give you eternal life.
Jesus, before He goes to do all these things, makes it crystal clear to His disciples what He came to do. For them. For you. For the whole world. If there is ever any doubt regarding what Jesus is about, His words will clear it all up: He came to suffer and die and rise the third day. This is our faith. This is life. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
O Lord, we implore You, mercifully hear our prayers, and, having set us free from the bonds of sin, defend us from all evil; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. (Collect for Quinquagesima)