Here is, I. The notice Christ gave to his disciples of his sufferings and death approaching, and of the glorious issue of them, which he himself had a perfect sight and foreknowledge of, and thought it necessary to give them warning of, that it might be the less surprise and terror to them. Two things here are which we had not in the other evangelists:—1. The sufferings of Christ are here spoken of as the fulfilling of the scriptures, with which consideration Christ reconciled himself to them, and would reconcile them: All things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man, especially the hardships he should undergo, shall be accomplished. Note, The Spirit of Christ, in the Old-Testament prophets, testified beforehand his sufferings, and the glory that should follow, 1 Pet. 1:11. This proves that the scriptures are the word of God, for they had their exact and full accomplishment; and that Jesus Christ was sent of God, for they had their accomplishment in him; this was he that should come, for whatever was foretold concerning the Messiah was verified in him; and he would submit to any thing for the fulfilling of scripture, that not one jot or tittle of that should fall to the ground. This makes the offence of the cross to cease, and puts an honour upon it. Thus it was written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, thus it became him. 2. The ignominy and disgrace done to Christ in his sufferings are here most insisted upon. The other evangelists had said that he should be mocked; but here it is added, He shall be spitefully treated, hybristhesetai—he shall be loaded with contumely and contempt, shall have all possible reproach put upon him. This was that part of his sufferings by which in a spiritual manner he satisfied God’s justice for the injury we had done him in his honour by sin. Here is one particular instance of disgrace done him, that he was spit upon, which had been particularly foretold, Isa. 50:6. But here, as always, when Christ spoke of his sufferings and death, he foretold his resurrection as that which took off both the terror and reproach of his sufferings: The third day he shall rise again.
II. The confusion that the disciples were hereby put into. This was so contrary to the notions they had had of the Messiah and his kingdom, such a balk to their expectations from their Master, and such a breaking of all their measures, that they understood none of these things, Luke 18:34. Their prejudices were so strong that they would not understand them literally, and they could not understand them otherwise, so that they did not understand them at all. It was a mystery, it was a riddle to them, it must be so; but they think it impossible to be reconciled with the glory and honour of the Messiah, and the design of setting up his kingdom. This saying was hidden from them, kekrymmenon ap auton, it was apocrypha to them, they could not receive it: for their parts, they had read the Old Testament many a time, but they could never see any thing in it that would be accomplished in the disgrace and death of this Messiah. They were so intent upon those prophecies that spoke of his glory that they overlooked those that spoke of his sufferings, which the scribes and doctors of the law should have directed them to take notice of, and should have brought into their creeds and catechisms, as well as the other; but they did not suit their scheme, and therefore were laid aside. Note, Therefore it is that people run into mistakes, because they read their Bibles by the halves, and are as partial in the prophets as they are in the law. They are only for the smooth things, Isa. 30:10. Thus now we are too apt, in reading the prophecies that are yet to be fulfilled, to have our expectations raised of the glorious state of the church in the latter days. But we overlook its wilderness sackcloth state, and are willing to fancy that is over, and nothing is reserved for us but the halcyon days; and then, when tribulation and persecution arise, we do not understand it, neither know we the things that are done, though we are told as plainly as can be that through many tribulations we must enter into the kingdom of God.