Bible Insights

Jesus Predicts His Death, Again

Today’s passage: Matthew 20:17–19, Mark 10:32–34, and Luke 18:31–34

Focus verse: “On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20:19)

In a prior reading we covered Jesus predicting his death and resurrection. This isn’t the only time he says this. He does it again . . . and again.

The second time is much like the first. They’re in Galilee. Jesus tells his disciples three things.

First, he will be delivered over to the hands of men. This is cryptic, but we now know that this means Judas will betray him to the Jewish leaders who will arrest him.

Jesus’s other two statements are clear. They will kill him, and he will arise to life (Matthew 17:22–23, Mark 9:30–32, and Luke 9:43–45).

This time Peter keeps quiet. He may have learned from his prior impetuous outburst that saying nothing is the wise action. Even so, the disciples react strongly.

Matthew says they’re filled with grief. This suggests they rightly hear the dying part but miss the rising part. Though Jesus raised some people from the dead, the disciples are much more familiar with death than resurrection.

In contrast to Matthew’s account, Mark and Luke say the disciples don’t understand what he means but are afraid to ask for clarification.

Which is it? It’s both. Combining these, we see the disciples are concerned because they don’t understand.

This is the second time Jesus predicts his death.

The third time Jesus predicts his death is on their way to Jerusalem. This time he gives more details.

He says he’ll be handed over to the religious leaders. They’ll condemn him to death and hand him over to the Gentiles—that is, non-Jews, implying the Romans. (This is because the Jews lack the authority to execute anyone, but the Romans can.)

The Romans will mock Jesus, flog him, and execute him by crucifixion.

But his death isn’t the end. Three days later, he will rise again to life. Though Matthew and Mark don’t record the disciples’ reaction, Luke does. He says they don’t understand any of what Jesus said.

Why do Matthew, Mark, and Luke all tell us that Jesus three times predicts his death?

It may be for emphasis, or it may be to make sure we don’t miss his prediction. But the repetition may harken back to the Old Testament law that requires two or three witnesses to condemn a man to death (Deuteronomy 17:6).

Though Jesus isn’t supplying three witnesses, he does state three times that he’ll be condemned to die.

It’s as if he’s telling his disciples that he knows he will die and accepts it.


  • When has grief filled us over something we didn’t understand?
  • When has God needed to repeat his message to us before we understood his instruction?

Prayer: Heavenly Father, may we understand what you say to us in Scripture and through your Holy Spirit.

Discover more about celebrating Jesus and his passion to save us in Peter’s new book, The Passion of Jesus. It is part of the Holiday Celebration Bible Study Series.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.

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