The Cost of Forgiveness Matthew 20:17-19

“The Cost of Forgiveness”                        3/5/23                                                   Matthew 20:17-19

The Big Idea: Live with a purpose of forgiveness

Introduction:  its commonly said that a person has to hear something about seven times before they remember it.

It wasn’t any different for the disciples—Jesus’ death is the central purpose and central point of the gospel, yet they didn’t seem to make that connection

Jesus told them he would die in some obscure ways:

  1. John 2—destroy this temple
  2. Mathew 12:39—the sign of Jonah
  3. Matthew 17:12—suffering like John had suffered—at the hands of sinners

This is the third time that Jesus clearly said that he would die, and be raised from the dead

  • St. Jerome, “Jesus had often told His disciples of His passion, but because it might have slipped out of their recollection by reason of the many things they had heard in the mean while, now when He is going to Jerusalem, and going to take His disciples with Him, He fortifies them against the trial, that they should not be scandalized when the persecution and shame of the Cross should come.”[1]

Our passage occurs as he approaches Jerusalem

—the triumphal entry /Palm Sunday is at the beginning of chapter 21

Here, on the way to the holy city, our Lord fortifies the disciples with the hard truth and the eternal hope of the gospel.  Jesus goes for more than just the twelve following, Jesus goes to Jerusalem for all his people.  And in our Savior’s determination to go and to suffer we see a model of Christian living—to head into life, even into suffering, with a purpose of forgiving those who are causing it.

Three points: 1. The disciples’ benefit; 2. Believers’ benefit; 3. The Believers’ duty

  1. The disciples’ benefit
    1. An ancient, unnamed author wrote, “For when sorrow comes at a time we are looking for it, it is found lighter than it would have been, had it taken us by surprise.”[2]  Jesus wanted his disciples to be prepared for his death and hopeful for his resurrection.
      1. Certain things are better when we don’t know they’re coming, so we can’t fret…   
        1. Like going to the dentist for me
        1. Or along the same lines—you distract a person with lots of good things before something terrible happens (Erin and Pete before Andy returns and how he compares that his dog…)
      1. This couldn’t be lightened—but it could be prepared for
    1. It would appear that Jesus had two very human reasons at work when he spoke this way upon coming near to Jerusalem
      1. First it was weighing on our Savior
        1. As his hour approached, Jesus had more and more insight into just what lay ahead for him
        1. We should never think this was a light thing for Jesus
          1. Like I did after hearing it so much…
          1. The night before crucifixion—Luke 22:44 And being in agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
            1. Agony to the point of sweating blood or sweat as thick as blood
            1. The point is the same—the thought of drinking the cup of God’s wrath all the way to its bottom, draining it dry, was overwhelming to Jesus
        1. Jesus was sharing his heart with his disciples, maybe even looking for strength from his little community
      1. He had a purpose beyond himself—he had been preparing his disciples for this moment, bit by bit.  Through the obscure references and the more clear predictions of his death.  Jesus wants his disciples to continue trusting God even when the Messiah is killed.
        1. And he wanted them to encouraged for what was going to follow—the resurrection, “and the Son of Man will be raised on the third day”
    1. Spurgeon, “The heart of Jesus was full of his sacrifice. Look at how he dwells on the details from the beginning to the end of his sufferings, death, and resurrection. . . He calls their attention to the fact that they were going up to Jerusalem, the place of sacrifice: the journey of his utmost grief was now beginning: the end was hastening on. What a pang shot through his heart as he said, “The Son of man shall be betrayed”![3]
      1. “dwelling (meditating) on the passion of our Lord should be our life-long theme”
      1. Jesus’ words here are for the disciples benefit in
        1. Preparing them for the next week or ten days
        1. Preparing them for rest of their lives—his crucifixion for our sins is something worth our time and effort to dwell on
          1. To derive spiritual nourishment and equipment
  2. Believers’ benefit
    1. Deriving spiritual nourishment from Jesus’ crucifixion isn’t mere psychology
      1. It’s an act of faith
      1. It’s one thing to say in your consciousness, “Jesus is man, but also God, and he suffered crucifixion and death for my salvation” and a whole other thing to truly believe it and act on it in faith
      1. Faith isn’t a feeling that stands apart from knowledge, and faith is more than knowledge.  WE can’t believe something we don’t intellectually accept—but to have faith we must also trust it—like you did when sat in the chair, or when drive over a bridge.
      1. In faith, contemplate the great and awful persecution Jesus endured for believers
        1. That’s what he was doing in this passage, with the threefold recounting of the suffering
        1. Mocked, flogged, and crucified
    1. Let me give you two general directions for meditating on Jesus’ suffering for you:
      1. Limited atonement—Jesus died for you, not just the possibility you could be saved, but he died for your sins
      1. The gift Jesus earned for us—the Holy Spirit, the believer’s benefit
    1. Limited Atonement:  Here is an awful, but comforting truth:  If you are a believer—Jesus headed to the cross with you on his mind, in his heart, and your name written on his hands
      1. In heaven, before time was created, the names of believers were written on the second person of the trinity’s hands with an indelible mark visible only to God
      1. But here in Matthew 20, if you are a believer, your name would be written in the blood dripping from the nails in his hands
      1. Jesus died with a purpose—to pay for your individual sins
        1. All of them:  thoughts, even dreams, words that hurt, words that could have helped but weren’t said, and actions
        1. He didn’t die for sin in a general sense
        1. He died specifically for the sins of his people
        1. Jesus, the son of God, who never sinned, nor experienced a sinful world until he took on flesh—died because you rebelled against him and cursed him and mocked him and nailed him to the cross
      1. Glorifying God is the chief end of man and it was made possible because the Father glorified the Son on the cross
      1. Your worship, your act of glorifying God begins in your mind, works its way to your heart, and is lived out through your life
    1. The believer’s benefit:  the Holy Spirit
      1. The most unappreciated member of the trinity as a person
      1. Those who talk most about the Spirit now do so in terms of power or divine energy, but not as a person
      1. The person of the Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost—He made the crowds hear the gospel in their own language
      1. The person of the Holy Spirit was poured into believers’ hearts, your heart if you are a believer, to grant life in Christ, to apply Christ’s death to your sin, and Christ’s resurrection to your soul, and He now lives in you to glorify Christ through you
  • That’s the glorious benefit Jesus had in mind when he went straight ahead into the arms of betrayal, the scorn of condemnation, and torment of crucifixion for his people.
    • Having the Holy Spirit to work in believers is a benefit worth all the suffering Jesus endured.
  • The believers’ duty
    • Let’s get a picture of exactly what Jesus was heading straight into:  “See, we are going up to Jerusalem. And the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified, and he will be raised on the third day.”
    • Delivered over—betrayed by a close friend
      • To the chief priests and scribes—the Sanhedrin would sentence him to death
      • Deliver him over to the Gentiles—Jews could recommend the sentence of death, but couldn’t carry it out themselves—Pilate would have to do that
      • Mocked—it’s not an easy thing for us to endure mocking because we see ourselves as not deserving it, the only words Jesus deserves to hear is praise, adoration, and glory
        • Mocking was an element of psalm 22:6-8  But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; “He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
        • The Psalm Jesus would quote just before he died, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”
      • Flogged—many times this punishment was enough to kill someone
      • Crucified—the most horrific, humiliating punishment anyone has every thought of
    • Why did Jesus do this?  For the forgiveness of his people
      • He laid out what would happen:
        • Betrayed by Judas, betrayed by the Jews, mocked, flogged, and crucified
      • And this was all so that the people who had done this—maybe not those exact people, but everyone who has lived has treated God, Christ, and Holy Spirit in these same ways—Jesus suffered and died for their forgiveness
        • Even some of them who were there and took part in Jesus’ execution were converted
        • The thief on the cross who began by mocking him ended up being comforted by him—“today you will be with me in paradise”
        • The soldier that hung the beaten body of Christ on the cross to curse him was at the end awestruck by the man who would die in such a glorious way—“truly this was the son of God”
      • Jesus saw the evil he was going to endure and feel at the hands of sinful men, but went straight to their condemnation, mocking, flogging, and crucifixion for their forgiveness
    • The Believers’ duty:  live your life with a purpose of forgiving others
    • Doing this, walking in Jesus’ footsteps is beyond our ability—we need God’s help, we need the Holy Spirit’s help
      • Commit yourself to forgiving
      • Commit yourself to praying for opportunities and strength to pursue it
        • I already mentioned Jesus himself prayed in Gethsemane
        • Ask the Spirit to make your forehead like flint as He did for the prophets when they preached to hard hearted Israel
        • As the Spirit did for Jesus when he would be kissed by Judas, condemned by the Sanhedrin, sentenced by Pilate, and crushed by the Father
      • Look for opportunities and ways to forgive and pursue them—all too often we, I, am just living my life and act as if being willing to forgive a hypothetical fault is enough.
        • Your forgiveness came at the price of Jesus’ wounds.
        • He didn’t go to Jerusalem with that being a hypothetical possibility, he went knowing that was the reality.
        • That’s how we should be living—looking, anticipating, and acting on the spirit of forgiveness we see exemplified in Christ.

WSC #88, 91, 96

Communion Hymn SB#1  Behold the Lamb

The Lord’s Supper

The Apostles’ Creed

TH#159  O Savior, Precious Savior

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

[1] Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Matthew, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 1 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 688.

[2] Thomas Aquinas, Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers: St. Matthew, ed. John Henry Newman, vol. 1 (Oxford: John Henry Parker, 1841), 688.

[3] C. H. Spurgeon, The Gospel of the Kingdom: A Commentary on the Book of Matthew (London: Passmore and Alabaster, 1893), 170.