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.” But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken. Luke 18:31-34 (NKJV).
As Jesus and His disciples make their way to Jerusalem, Jesus has His discussion with the rich young ruler (Lu. 18:18-23), and then comments about how difficult it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. He then pulls His disciples aside and discloses to them what lies ahead for Himself. He was about to be mistreated, humiliated, and then put to death; but then, on the third day, He would rise from the dead. He had said similar things before, most notably in Luke 9:22 and 44, but this time He is much more specific about the details of the coming ordeal.
The passage tells us several important things about our Lord. First of all, in it Jesus reveals His Messianic self-consciousness. He refers (presumably to Himself) to “the Son of Man” (v. 31). This is, of course, a reference to a Messianic prophecy in Daniel 7:13,14: “I was watching in the night visions, and behold, One like the Son of Man, Coming with the clouds of heaven! He came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom the one which shall not be destroyed.” This indicates that the historical Jesus did not think of Himself as an ordinary human being, but as the promised Messiah.
Secondly, He indicates that the sufferings that He was about to endure was also prophesied in the Old Testament. These are “all the things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of Man.” This suggests two important facts: 1) what was about to happen to Him was foreordained. Indeed, He had been given a mission by His Father in heaven, and that mission required Him, and that mission required Him to pass through this terrible ordeal, and 2) it serves an apologetic purpose as well. If the question be asked, “How can we know that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah?,” the answer would be that what happened to Him fits the description of the Messiah in the Old Testament prophecies.
Thirdly, the passage describes for us the humiliating treatment He would undergo. This abuse was both psychological and physical. He would be ridiculed, insulted, and spat upon. He would also be struck on the head with a reed, and finally, He would be put to death. The thought of enduring all this, and the sense of the gross injustice that lay behind it all, must have been painful indeed. And it was probably how all of this could happen to the Messiah that the disciples found so difficult to understand.
But this was not all. Jesus also went on to predict His resurrection, which constituted a most extraordinary kind of victory. One would ordinarily conclude that when one is dead, that all is lost. But for Jesus this was not the case. He would do something that had practically never been done before in history: He would rise from the dead.
The amazing thing is that Jesus knew that all of this was going to happen, and yet he continued the journey that would take Him to His appointment with destiny. Why? He did it for us. He did it because He knew that it was the only way He could redeem us from sin. We, in fact, were the ones who deserved abuse and mistreatment, and yet He voluntarily undertook it on our behalf. What condescending love! What work of grace divine!