The entire life of Jesus was centered on the sacrifice that he would make on the cross. Why? Because Jesus, who was without sin, knew that it was his destiny to pay the price of our disobedience to God. Only he could pay that price, given that the penalty for sin is death. His own sinlessness gave him the ability to take away our sins by his death, because he had no personal penalty of death to pay.
In our gospel passage today from Matthew, Jesus reveals to his apostles his understanding of the sacrifice he means to accept because of his love for us.
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem,
he took the Twelve disciples aside by themselves,
and said to them on the way,
“Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem,
and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests
and the scribes,
and they will condemn him to death,
and hand him over to the Gentiles
to be mocked and scourged and crucified,
and he will be raised on the third day.”
The apostles did not want to believe that Jesus had a mission that ended in his death. They tried to persuade him not to allow it to happen. They knew how gruesome and humiliating crucifixion would be for Jesus. As men, they feared. But the Lord did not turn away from the suffering to come. He knew that it was necessary that he should die so that we could be freed from our sin penalty through his resurrection.
By his wounds we are healed.