Disciples of Jesus constantly need to be reminded of Good Friday. That’s as true today as it was in Luke 9 for the first disciples.
Having been sent out by Jesus, these twelve men had cast out demons, healed the sick, and proclaimed the kingdom of God with power (1–5). Then they got to serve bread and fish in the miraculous feeding of over five thousand people (10–17). And, as if that weren’t enough, Peter, James, and John got a glimpse of Jesus in his blinding, resurrection glory (28–36). This whole discipleship thing was even better than they had imagined.
Sure, there had been some hiccups along the way, like the disciples’ lack of faith in casting out a demon (37–43), and there were those uncomfortable warnings from Jesus about his crucifixion and the need for disciples to deny themselves (21–27). But on the whole, things were looking up.
We can hardly blame the disciples for “marveling” over what they had seen (43). Who wouldn’t have? Yet, this was precisely the time Jesus chose to remind them that Good Friday was coming. His words must have sounded strange and ominous:
“Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” (44)
Luke’s Gospel tells us that the full meaning of Jesus’ words was “concealed” from the disciples, but they apparently understood enough to be “afraid” of asking questions (45). So why did Jesus feel the need to keep bringing up these troubling truths? Why not keep things positive for a while? Probably for the same reason that we need regular reminders of Good Friday.
Like Jesus’ early disciples, we need the reality of the cross to correct our misconceptions about discipleship. We start to assume, particularly when things are going well, that we will always be well received by the world. However, Jesus knows that this mindset is dangerous. When such false expectations meet reality, the result is often discouragement, doubt, and even desertion.
Jesus cared enough for his first disciples to tell them about the road ahead—the road to Calvary. Yes, they were following the Messiah, but this was not the kind of Messiah they were expecting. He would eventually be rejected and then crucified, and they needed to be prepared for this. As forgetful, weak, and proud disciples, we need that same reminder today. Hatred from the world is guaranteed (John 15:18), and the message of a crucified Messiah is still “folly” (1 Corinthians 1:18). Thankfully, though, the most important lesson from Good Friday is not what it teaches us about the difficulties of discipleship.
The Ultimate Lesson
The most imporant lesson from Good Friday is that Christ’s death has satisfied God’s just judgment against us. Without that, we wouldn’t even be disciples, let alone faithful ones. As Peter put it, Christ “bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). Now, as a result, we can hear Jesus’ warning about His impending arrest and crucifixion and not only be sobered, but also strengthened. Christ’s rejection was for our salvation.
That’s ultimately why we need to be reminded of Good Friday.