A Final Passion Prediction (18:31-34)

Now comes the sixth prediction of Jesus' death in Luke, three more than Mark notes (Lk 9:22, 44; 12:50; 13:32-33; 17:25; the Markan parallels are in Lk 9 and here). Luke stresses these predictions to keep the specter of Jesus' approaching death before the reader and to make the reader aware that Jesus was fully preparing the disciples for life after his physical departure from the earth.

Here Jesus addresses the Twelve. Throughout the entire journey he has stressed that he will suffer, and throughout the entire journey the disciples have struggled to understand how this can be. The Old Testament indicated that suffering would occur in Jerusalem. Which Scriptures are in view is debated. Daniel 7 is not really a good possibility, since the Son of Man's suffering is not referred to in that passage. Daniel 7 serves only as the eventual background to the Son of Man title, a connection Jesus explicitly reveals in Luke 21:27. The suffering imagery must come from another set of texts. Jesus seems to be combining various motifs. The suffering servant is a major theme of this teaching (Is 50:6; 52:13—53:12). Another key may well be the "deuteronomistic" critique which describes continual national unfaithfulness and suggests that a prophet will not suffer outside of Jerusalem (Lk 13:31-35). In addition, opposition to Messiah may play a role (Ps 2; Lk 24:44-49; Acts 4:24-28).

In moving to specifics, Jesus does not discuss the chief priests and scribes. Rather, he highlights the handing over of Jesus to the Gentiles. The text does not specify whether the handing over is part of a divine permission (reading a theological passive) or is a subtle way to depict national unfaithfulness. But the appeal to scriptural realization means this is not an either-or question. God will permit the nation to hand over the Messiah. The act reflects its hardness of heart (Acts 2:22-24). Jesus will be mocked. The fulfillment comes in Luke 22:63-71 and 23:11, 36, where Jesus is subjected to the ridicule of proud scoffers (Bertram 1972:306).

Jesus will be flogged, die and be raised. This was either the dreaded verberatio or the less severe fustigata. Usually before crucifixion, verberatio was used; for discipline fustigata was applied. The criminal was flogged until blood was drawn (Suetonius Claudius 34 and Domitian 11; Hengel 1977; Sherwin-White 1963:27-28).

All this detail does not enlighten the disciples. The point about their lack of comprehension does not mean that they do not understand his words, but that they cannot grasp how this will fulfill Scripture or how Messiah could suffer. They just cannot see how fulfillment can come this way. The unveiling occurs in 24:13-49.

Jesus knows where his journey leads. He will suffer the rejection of his own and of the world. He suffers knowingly and willingly. He has the courage to stand up for God and to suffer according to his will.

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