In the death and resurrection of Jesus, we remember and celebrate events that no one but the Messiah, himself, saw coming. Even when Jesus began repeatedly telling his friends that he needed to go to Jerusalem to suffer and die at the hands of religious leaders— before rising the third day (Matt 16:21), it was as if he never told them at all.
What was going on? Why were the crucifixion and resurrection such a surprise when they happened?
One answer might be that the disciples and their religious leaders were people of the Book. They found their identity, their purpose, and their hope in the pages of Moses , the writings, and the prophets. And it was from the first pages of this book that they learned of a son of the woman who would defeat their mortal enemies.
Sometimes the Book seemed to say that God’s answer to their suffering would come in the form of a great anointed Prophet. Sometimes the prophets seemed to promise deliverance through a conquering King, or maybe even a great Priest who would offer the sacrifice of their rescue.
Yet, as it turned out, the answer we now celebrate is one that could only be understood after the fact. Hints of a suffering God were so mysteriously woven into the law, prophets, and writings, that they weren’t foreseen and believed until after they happened. The rescue came in the form of a Messiah and with an answer for the world that neither friend or enemy saw coming.
But why? Why for thousands of years was the sacred story told and written like a great mystery— so that before the chosen people of the Book could start telling their story of a resurrected Savior—to the whole world… they would be the ones who would betray their own Savior, Messiah, and God?
Shouldn’t having the words and Book of God been enough to give God’s own people an inside understanding of what he was going to do?