daily biblical sermons

Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, Th.D.
Homily of Thursday, after Ash Wednesday, March 07, 2019
Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Psalm one, Luke 9:22-25

Biblical quotations are taken from the Revised Standard Version unless otherwise noted


"The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised on the third day" (Luke 9:22 NKJV).

Today Jesus tells us that he must (dei in Greek) suffer at the instigation of the Jewish authorities, be killed, and rise on the third day.

But why does Jesus say that "the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised on the third day" (Luke 9:22 NKJV)? What is the basis of this necessity? It is necessary that he be killed because it is God's will, his positive, desired, perfect will. Therefore Jesus must endure it, because it is the will of God for him to save the world in this way. His death by crucifixion is God's plan for saving the world. God chose this way of saving the world long ago, and so the prophets spoke about it and prophesied that "he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5). This happened to him because "we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6).

But let us ask a further question: why was this God's way? Does this word "must" (dei) have a deeper meaning than simply that God chose and desired to do it this way, and so Jesus must go through with it? Does "must" also mean that God himself must do it this way? Is there some inner necessity within God himself that requires him to save us in this way and only in this way? Does this "must" mean that even God could not save us in any other way than in this way?

The biblical texts that speak about this "must" seem to say that the necessity resides in the nature of God himself. Despite what most people think, God really can't do everything. His nature prevents him from doing everything. He cannot do something that is impossible, like make a square circle. So God himself is limited by his nature as to what he can do and as to how he has to do it.

So with this in mind, let us look at a few other texts that speak of the necessity of Jesus' death.

On the road to Emmaus, the risen Christ asks the two disciples that he is walking with, "Was it not necessary [edei, the imperfect tense of dei) that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Luke 24:26). Here it certainly sounds like more is involved than simply that God decided to do it this way, and so this is the way I must do it. It sounds more like there is an inner necessity that it could only be done in this way. Do you not realize that it was necessary that the Christ should suffer and in this way enter into his glory?

In Thessalonica there was a synagogue. "And Paul went in, as was his custom, and for three weeks he argued with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary (edei, the imperfect tense of dei) for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead" (Acts 17:2-3). It certainly sounds like St. Paul was saying more than simply that this was the will of God. That could be said in one simple sentence. So what was he doing for three weeks arguing from the Scriptures, explaining, and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer? Surely he was showing that there was some inner logic in the nature of God that required him to have his Messiah suffer and die for our salvation.

So it certainly sounds like there is an inner necessity that God save us only in this way and that he cannot save us in any other way. He cannot save us without the execution of his Son. So if this is what the Scriptures are saying, then we must ask, What is the reason why it must be done only in this way and in no other way. We need to ask what in God's nature requires that he save us in this way and in no other way?

The answer is that God has revealed himself as perfectly just and perfectly merciful. These two qualities contradict each other. If God is perfectly merciful, he would let all sinners go free; and if God is perfectly just, he would punish all sinners. But if he is both perfectly just and perfectly merciful he is stuck. He is like a typewriter whose keys are jammed. He is in a contradiction, and can't act perfectly mercifully and perfectly justly to the same people at the same time, because it is an impossibility, like making a square circle, something which even God can't do.

So how does God get himself out of this dilemma? His own nature forces him as a perfectly just and perfectly merciful God to find a proxy so that he can treat us ungodly sinners in both a perfectly just and a perfectly merciful way without jamming his keys and contradicting his nature. This proxy, the Messiah, his incarnate divine Son, is sent to the earth as a man to absorb God's righteous wrath against us for our sins. This Son must therefore be the person that God, in his justice, punishes for our sins so that he might treat us in an all-merciful way. In this way God can treat us mercifully without violating and contradicting his own perfect justice. So God himself, in the person of his divine Son made man, takes our sins upon himself, as our substitute, and endures our punishment for our sins for us so that they are justly punished in him, and so God remains perfectly just and can therefore justly be perfectly merciful to us, forgive our sins, and declare us ungodly sinners righteous, since our debt of punishment for our sins with God has been duly and justly paid by Christ on the cross, and since our sins have been justly punished.

In other words, "God so willed it [Christ's death], because it must be so, and not it must be because God so willed it" (Bible illustrator https://www.studylight.org/commentary/luke/9-22.html). So the Scriptures are telling us more than simply that Christ must be rejected and killed as a criminal since this was God's will. They are rather telling us that God willed his Son to die on the cross because there is no other way to save us, since God is perfectly just and perfectly merciful. So God willed it because there is no other way that it could be done, and not that it had to be this way, only because it was God's will.

We also note that St. Paul is very much involved in trying to persuade people that the Messiah had to suffer. I think it is important for us today to emphasize Paul's method of evangelization, which involves much reasoning, discussion, and persuasive arguments. I say we must emphasize this, because today we hear so much loose thinking about mission, for example, that it is wrong to try to convince non-Christians of the truth of Christianity, or that religious proselytization is nothing but a lot of sanctimonious nonsense, or that missionaries should encourage the people to be good Buddhists, good Hindus, or good Muslims, but not try to convert anyone, because missionaries no longer try to convert people.

This new approach is definitely the exact opposite method of St. Paul and of Jesus, who sent his disciples out into the whole world - to do what? The risen Christ said,

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15).

And he said,

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20).

St. Paul had the same approach.

"And Paul went in, as was his custom, and for three weeks he argued with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead" (Acts 17:2-3).

This is the way that God designed for people to be saved, that is, by hearing this message about Jesus Christ proclaimed to them and by accepting it with faith and repentance for their sins. This is therefore what we should do. We should not try to justify sitting at home minding our own business, making no attempt to preach to people, and only wait until someone knocks on our door and asks to join us. The whole thrust of New Testament Christianity is just the opposite. It is not passive, but active. It is a movement that moves out and actively preaches the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ through his death on the cross to ever new peoples and invites them to repent of their sins and receive this good news with faith so that God might declare them righteous, with all their sins forgiven, because of Christ's atoning work on the cross for their salvation. This is mission in its proper focus as we see it in the New Testament, both in the words of Jesus and in the words and actions of St. Paul.


» 2022-2023 Year A English
» 2021-2022 Year C English
» 2020-2021 Year B English
» 2019-2020 Year A English
» 2018-2019 Year C English
» 2017-2018 Year B English
» 2016-2017 Year A English
» 2015-2016 Year C English
» 2014-2015 Year B English
» 2013-2014 Year A English
» 2012-2013 Year C English
» 2011-2012 Year B English
» 2010-2011 Year A English
» 2009-2010 Year C English
» 2008 - 2009 Year B English
To receive my current daily Biblical sermons by email
Subscribe to DailyBiblicalSermons Free:
Enter Your Email Below and Click Subscribe

See my books!

Desert Living

Desert Living

Desert Living

All books are available and searchable on Amazon and Kindle.

Daily Biblical Sermons
© Copyright 2007-2009 Rev. Steven Scherrer, www.DailyBiblicalSermons.com. All are welcome to use the materials on this site, either via spoken or written form. However, if used in written form or retransmitted via internet or email, please INCLUDE the above copyright indication. Thank you.